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The Rowing Lessonby Anne Landsman
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the South African M-Net Literary Prize (English category).
“Anne Landsman’s glittering, shimmering new novel is a tour de force. . . . Elation and pain, anxiety and exuberance, and the uneven beat of living are all caught in language as silky and fluid as music.”—Roxana Robinson
“Like Joyce or William Gass or John Edgar Wideman, Anne Landsman fashions a sensual web of memory and desire, rescuing a world at the brink of extinction through the power of her lyricism.”—Stewart O’Nan
“An elegy for a lost father and a beloved world on the point of disappearing. Rarely in South African writing will we encounter language of such fire and passion.”—J. M. Coetzee
“A fierce elegy, a daughter’s imaginary inhabitation of the memory of her dying father . . . an adventure in language. . . . It makes art of a life.”—Louis Menand
Betsy Klein is summoned from her home in the United States to her father’s hospital bed in South Africa. Orphaned young, he had to struggle to become a doctor and to win the respect of his Boer patients. We first meet young Harold Klein on an excursion with his friends on the Ebb ’N Flow, a river to which he often returns. That is where he later teaches his little daughter to row, and finally, where he makes his last metaphoric passage.
Anne Landsman was born and raised in South Africa. Her debut novel, The Devil’s Chimney (Soho Press, 1997), was published in paperback by Penguin. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
"Scenes from the rich, contentious life of a dying Jewish South African country doctor flash before his expatriate daughter's eyes in Landsman's frustrating second novel (after The Devil's Chimney). A skinny boy with a hot-tempered mother and a good-hearted father, Harry Klein grew up in pre-WWII Germany, where he married a woman from a socially superior Jewish family during medical school and later endured the wartime death of his father from influenza. After his emigration to South Africa, patients of all races revere him as 'Doctor God,' but he clashes with his artist daughter (who narrates, maddeningly, in the second person) and can't shake his life-long jealousy of his younger brother, a flashy, respected cardiologist. This novel offers a few insights on death, the frailty of the human body and the ties between parent and child, but the overly lyrical prose tries too hard, and the second-person narration does the mostly opaque narrative few favors." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A passionate and poetic evocation of a man's life.
About the Author
Anne Landsman was born and raised in South Africa. Her debut novel, The Devil's Chimney (Soho Press 1997), was published in trade paperback by Penguin and was a Book of the Month Club Quality Paperback Selection. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
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