Although a bloody shooting reverberates through this novel, Chronicler of the Winds is not a crime story, unlike the global bestsellers set in rural Sweden for which Henning Mankell is best known. Instead, this lyrical book relates the life and death of Nelio, a mythical street kid leading a gang of urban urchins struggling to survive in a fictional African country torn apart by civil war. It begins with a moment of drama – Jose, a baker and the book’s narrator, hears shots from a deserted theatre and finds Nelio lying wounded on the empty spot-lit stage. With a simple act of discovery Mankell begins an elegant story about storytelling and what being told a story can mean.
Refusing the offer of being taken to hospital, Nelio asks Jose to take him up to the roof of the theatre. In the cool night air he tells Jose: ‘Here I can dare release my spirits.’ Over nine long nights, each forming a separate chapter, Nelio tells Jose the story