Friday, September 7, 2007

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

I am not sure of my overall reaction to The Sound of One Hand Clapping. On the one hand I did not really like Richard Flanagan's style of writing, on the other I felt compelled to finish the book as I was driven along by his characterisations and plot. The story is set in Tasmania in the early 1950s. Sonja is the daughter of two Slovenian refugees who have come out to Australia as part of the "populate or perish" schemes. Sonja's father and mother have clearly been very damaged psychologically by their wartime experiences. One night when Sonja is three her mother walks out into the snow and kills herself. The rest of the story is about how this act affects Sonja's relationship with her father and, later, other men. Her father turns to alcohol to bury his grief and the result is a violent man who physically abuses Sonja. The end of the story, however, offers hope as Sonja seeks reconciliation with her father. This reconciliation provides the impetus he needs to finally move on, and confront his alcohol dependency.

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