For over 50 years, the South African Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer has been contributing to the intellectual discourse on race, politics, and literature by creating characters in her stories and novels, and by focusing directly on the issues of the day in her essays and reviews. TELLING TIMES (W.W. Norton, $39.95), a collection of her nonfiction since 1954, shows her as an outspoken opponent of apartheid, while her fiction, such as the work gathered from all stages of her career in LIFE TIMES (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30), presents the daily humiliations and dangers of trying to live within this crippling system. Gordimer’s immense insight, wisdom, and storytelling skills come through in every genre she writes. These two collections chart the growth and long career of a brilliant, world-class writer.
I came late to the party. By the time I started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, most Stieg Larsson fans were already on volume three, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. But once I opened this thriller, I couldn’t put it down. I sailed through the next two. Now I’m one of the millions who hope the feud between Larsson’s family and his girlfriend will be resolved soon so we can get a fourth book. I even made a special order for THE MILLENNIUM TRILOGY DELUXE BOXED SET (Knopf, $99), a slip-cased package of the three novels, each unjacketed, bound in full cloth and uniquely stamped, with maps and individual full-color endpapers—as well as ON STIEG LARSSON, a previously unpublished collection of essays about and correspondence with the author. Why? Well, I want to have these books forever. I think of them as a memorial to Stieg and to the most original character created by a mystery writer in a very long time, Lisbeth Salander.
In a departure from his world-famous Wallender detective series, Henning Mankell’s new murder mystery is set in 1874 and focuses on crimes of colonialism and racism. The first victim is a mentally retarded Swedish girl. Her crime goes unsolved until much later, when the central plot, involving an entomologist and the orphaned African boy he brings back to Sweden, converges with the novel’s opening. DANIEL (New Press, $26.95) is an evocative and often troubling look at history, ambition, and betrayal. Mankell’s acute psychological sensitivity makes Daniel, as the San boy is re-christened, an unforgettable character, struggling with a strange new culture and yearning to return home and avenge his parents’ killings.