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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
A Bridge to the Stars
by Henning Mankell
Age Range: 12+
Eleven-year-old Joel is desperate to find out why his mother abandoned him and his father. Every night before he goes to sleep, he invents a story that includes her. His father means everything to him but he refuses to discuss Joel’s mother, often drowning his sorrows in drink. Joel is drawn out to haunt the streets late at night
by the sight of a mysterious dog. He becomes fascinated by the nocturnal
activities of his neighbours – ‘mad’ Simon Windstorm and ‘No-Nose’ Gertrud and
his encounter with the strange boy, Ture with whom he builds an uneasy friendship
as they plan their ‘Secret Society’. Joel discovers considerably more than he ever
expected which helps him to understand his own family, and himself.
Henning Mankell’s novel is a coming-of-age tale set during the cold, dark winter nights of Northern Sweden and the descriptions of the frozen landscape are in striking contrast to the warmth of emotion that erupts between father and son. The story is loosely autobiographical, based on the author’s own experience of being brought up by his father after his mother left home.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)