Absolution by Patrick Flanery

Wonderfully complex and beautifully written…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

absolutionI noticed last night that the Kindle version of Absolution is currently available for £0.99 ($1.51 in US) so that seemed like a good prompt to post my review. This was the winner of the FictionFan Book of 2012 (a prestigious award – the prize being that I guarantee to read the author’s next book!) and although it was critically acclaimed it never got the readership I believe it deserves. Flanery’s new one, Fallen Land, is due out on 1st May and, having been lucky enough to get an advance copy from the publishers, I was blown away by it – certainly the best book I’ve read this decade. (For my review click here.)

So here’s my original review of Absolution – all this for 99p…and still time to read it before the new one comes out!

This wonderfully written book is so complex it’s hard to give a full flavour of it in a short review. As Clare Wald, famous South African novelist, gives a series of interviews to her biographer, Sam Leroux, she begins a journey through her memories, re-assessing the part she has played in the lives of those around her. She is also writing an autobiographical fiction and we see all the different threads as we, like Clare, try to find the truth amidst the invention.

Clare’s story, and Sam’s, is told against the background of the role and position of the white South Africans during and after the struggle against apartheid. It is a search for truth that shows how memories are distorted and conflicting, how it is hard to distinguish whether motives are personal or political. The fear felt by the white community, whether real or exaggerated, pulses through the book allowing the author to examine questions of suspicion and trust.

As Clare and Sam search for their own redemption, the author has them echo the theme of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings designed to allow South Africa to face its past and look forward to its future. With the white South African regime having been one of the ogres of my youth, I was amazed at the way the author made me feel both sympathy and empathy for the white people caught up in these events. But this book isn’t just about South Africa – the emotions and motivations of these characters are universal.

This is a wonderful book, all the more remarkable since it is the author’s first. Assured, beautifully written and shocking in parts, it has left me with images that will stay with me for a long time. Sorrowful, filled with guilt and cruelty but echoing with hope, much like South Africa itself – in my opinion, this will be in the running for best book of 2012. Highly recommended.

Patrick Flanery(source:patrickflanery.com)
Patrick Flanery
(source:patrickflanery.com)

If you do read it, or if you already have, I’d love to hear what you think of it.

NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

19 thoughts on “Absolution by Patrick Flanery

  1. I concur in bucketfulls with your assessment. Flanery is a superb writer and ought to be being touted as the new great hope for fiction – narrative, character, style and substance, he has it all. Unfortunately it is all the OTHER writers of mediocre stuff who are being puffed with superlatives. This man deserves them!

    • Hallo, Anonymous! Are you the one who wrote all those great poems? 😉

      Good to know there’s someone else out there who feels the same way. Hopefully, being about America, Fallen Land may have a bigger impact. Otherwise, it proves that’s there’s no justice in the literary world…

    • How unfair! I see there’s no publication date for Fallen Land on Amazon Canada either. There’s only one solution – move to Scotland! 🙂

      Going on the stuff you’ve reviewed that I’ve enjoyed too, I think you will enjoy Flanery – if you do read it, I’d love to hear your opinion.

  2. I just signed on to give you a ‘like’ and am NOT reading the reivew yet!
    I started this book on Tuesday and it has me in its grips!
    Complex, yes it is. I had to concentrate reading the part about censors and censorship while I was slowly falling asleep before ‘lights out’s .

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