1997 Australian Booksellers Book of the Year
Synopses & Reviews
A sweeping novel of world war, migration, and the search for new beginnings in a new land, The Sound of One Hand Clapping
was both critically acclaimed and a best-seller in Australia. It is a virtuoso performance from an Australian who is emerging as one of our most talented new storytellers. It was 1954, in a construction camp for a hydroelectric dam in the remote Tasmanian highlands, where Bojan Buloh had brought his family to start a new life away from Slovenia, the privations of war, and refugee settlements. One night, Bojan's wife walked off into a blizzard, never to return leaving Bojan to drink too much to quiet his ghosts, and to care for his three-year-old daughter Sonja alone.
Thirty-five years later, Sonja returns to Tasmania and a father haunted by memories of the European war and other, more recent horrors. As the shadows of the past begin to intrude ever more forcefully into the present, Sonja's empty life and her father's living death are to change forever.
The Sound of One Hand Clapping is about the barbarism of an old world left behind, about the harshness of a new country, and the destiny of those in a land beyond hope who seek to redeem themselves through love.
"Flanagan...brilliantly illuminates the lives of those who are 'forgotten by history, irrelevant to history, yet shaped entirely by it.' His characters here transform tragedy as they discover their individual worth." Publishers Weekly
"Written in poetic prose, sometimes verging on purple, the book's 86 short chapters veer wildly back and forth, often with no apparent purpose, from 1954 to the 1960s and on to 1990. There are some stunning set pieces." Library Journal
"The Sound of One Hand Clapping tackles noble material and has genuine heart." The New York Times Book Review
"In his soap-opera plotting and authentic feel for working people, Flanagan owes much to Colleen McCullough. But theres no denying the power in his own wild flights of prose." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Richard Flanagan holds a Master of Letters from Oxford University and presently lives in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.