The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Paperback Book

The Sound of One Hand Clapping Paperback

3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


'Flanagan's enthralling and powerful novel centres on a Slovenian couple, Bojan and Maria Buloh, and their daughter Sonja.

The story begins in 1954, when Sonja is three, and ends in 1990, when she is in her late thirties ...The novel begins with Maria Buloh ...leaving the wooden hut in the Tasmanian highlands which is now her home.

A blizzard is blowing, and behind Maria three-year-old Sonja cries for her to come back -- but she does not ...To understand why Maria 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' Helen Dunmore, The Times 'Like Carol Shield's The Stone Diaries, The Sound of One Hand Clapping achieves the difficult task of making clear and real the lives of those who normally stay hidden in history.

From its wonderfully atmospheric opening to its touching conclusion, this is a heartbreaking story, beautifully told' Literary Review 'Richly imagined ...told in a voice rarely heard in Australia: almost violently masculine, shot through with heartbreaking delicacy of feeling' Robert Dessaix 'Flanagan imbues this most Australian of stories with a middle European sensibility found in the reserve of characters in Milan Kundera's writings . ..[he] tells an immortal story of faith and hope, its loss and rebirth ...The Sound of One Hand Clapping is destined to be a classic' Sydney Herald Sun


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Review by

If you like relentless misery this could well be the book for you. The story of a European immigrant family living in Tasmania in the 1950s sounded interesting enough, but I think it was the manner of the telling that put me off. I acknowledge the author has a poetic way with words, and could write about the wild landscape of Tasmania for page after page and make it different every time, but I found myself dragged down by the constant unhappiness and dissatisfaction. I’ve enjoyed plenty of downbeat books but in this case there seemed too little in the way of dialogue or proper sketching of personality for me to get a grip on the characters emotionally. They just felt like blobs of introspective misery. Occasionally, the story would spark into life – the bits involving the Heaney family and the dunny were like the sun coming out, though it was only temporary. It soon went back behind its cloud. I’ve given the book a low-ish star rating – not because it’s a bad book but because it just wasn’t something I enjoyed reading.

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A raw and ragged novel of raw and ragged people.Read Aug 2006