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Synopses & Reviews
Rachel Seifferts first book, The Dark Room, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, announced the arrival of a major writer; Afterwards fulfills that promise with a stunning novel about war and its brutal after-effect.
Alice is the protagonist of Afterwards, but this book is about the guilt harboured by people around her. There are two men in her life: her maternal grandfather, David, recently widowed, and her boyfriend, Joseph, each of whom keeps his past from his loved ones. David served in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion; Joseph, during a stint in the British army, served in Northern Ireland. Both, we learn, live with the memory of having killed in the line of duty.
As Alices relationship with Joseph develops, she senses there is something about his past that he keeps hidden. This is particularly galling given the personal and emotional details she has revealed to him (namely, that Alice has never met her father, and her attempts to establish an epistolary relationship with him in adulthood foundered). After her grandmothers death, Alice finds the time spent with her grandfather awkward. She doesnt know him the way she did her grandmother, but feels obliged to visit and offer support. Gradually, it emerges that Davids cold manner is traceable to events in Kenya, where he and his wife met. And as Alice tries to get to the bottom of Josephs reticence, a series of heated family discussions brushes ever closer to Davids secrets.
"'Britain's ongoing involvement in Northern Ireland threatens the budding romance between Londoners Alice, a physical therapist, and Joseph, a decorator and house painter, in Seiffert's psychologically acute, relentlessly grim second novel (following the Booker shortlisted The Dark Room). Almost a decade has passed since Joseph, then a soldier, killed a suspected IRA terrorist at a military checkpoint. The incident haunts him, sometimes makes him violent and prevents him from forming serious attachments. Alice resents that Joseph is essentially shutting her out of his life. Her frustration is compounded by the birth father who's rejected her, and by the recent death of her maternal grandmother. Alice tenuously cares for her grandfather, David, whose emotional remoteness may be linked to his stint with the RAF in 1950s Kenya. When Joseph good-naturedly offers to do some free decorating at David's house, an easy rapport develops between the two reticent men, until things go wrong. Although the characters' politics are simplistic, Seiffert masterfully chronicles the trajectory, and the causes, of Alice and Joseph's damaged relationship. Her beautifully understated, pointed exploration of the emotional toll of guerrilla war shines with clarity and vision. (July)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the author of the award-winning "The Dark Room" comes this electrifying new novel about how love exists, and how it is transformed, in a world beset by violence.
About the Author
Rachel Seiffert’s The Dark Room won a Betty Trask Award and the Los Angeles Times’s Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Seiffert has also received a David T. K. Wong award from PEN International. After living in Scotland and Germany, she now resides in London.
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