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   The Sound of One Hand Clapping

The Sound of One Hand Clapping
by Richard Flanagan

Category: Fiction / General
425 pages; ISBN: 0-330-35292-X

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: South African Book Review


This powerful novel spans the period 1954, when Sonja Buloh is three, to 1990 when she is in her thirties. It is a brilliant tale of the `real lives` of people who are seldom written about. Set in Tasmania, it focuses on the life of a family of emigrants from Eastern Europe, and the harsh realties of both living in a foreign, and unintelligible land; and of the life of working-class, often illiterate manual laborers; under-pinned with the ever-present effects of having lived through Nazism.

The story begins with Sonja`s mother `walking away` when she is three, and it takes 425 pages before one can really comprehend why, and how, she did it. As Helen Dunmore (The Times) says "To understand why Maria (Sonja`s mother) leaves her child is to understand a little the impact of Nazi occupation on those who were scarred for the rest of their lives by what they had seen…The novel lives by its moments of defining truth."

Richard Flanagan has been compared to Milan Kundera; and The Sound of One Hand Clapping, to Carol Shield`s The Stone Diaries. Like these authors this book gives one an insight into a world many of us have never, and will never, know - for me it was an important journey of understanding.

This book will undoubtedly become a classic, and an important reference point for many of our understandings about: the impact of war and fascism, extreme pain, betrayal, self loathing, the desire to no longer feel emotions, loss of hope - and its rediscovery.

Samantha Willan - SABR


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