Daniel by Henning Mankell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is extremely poignant and compelling as well as being unsettling. It is the story of a strange Swede, Hans Bengler, who goes to Africa to find an unknown species of insect to name after himself. He ends up finding an orphaned black boy about 8 years old whom he brings back to Sweden. He feels that he can give him a better life even though the trader where he found the boy tells him he will only destroy the boy.
Hans uses Daniel in part of a carnival type lecture series to get people to come in and listen to his lecture on insects. Non of the people involved consider Daniel or his needs. Daniel, on the other hand, longs for his home in the desert and sees, in his mind, his parents who were killed by white men. He meets with people who stare at him, pet him and sometimes regard his as the devil, but no one thinks of him as a real person. Daniel has been trained to say, "My name is Daniel. I believe in God" as a formula, but in his own mind, the voices of his parents are growing stronger and stronger. He hears of Jesus, who walked on water, and he is determined to learn to walk on water in order to go home.
The book calls into question the recent adoptions of young children whose culture is so different from the one they are adopted into, especially children older than 3-4. There are a lot of cultural implications that may not be being considered.
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