THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING book cover   The Sound of One Hand Clapping
Richard Flanagan

Cover photograph of Arabella Wain by Simon Caldwell

Dustjacket synopsis:

"In the winter of 1954, in a construction camp that festered like a bad wound in the remote Tasmanian highlands, when Sonja Buloh was three years old and her father was drinking too much, Sonja's mother walked into a blizzard never to return.

"Some thirty-five years later, when Sonja visits Tasmania and her drunkard father, the shadows of the past begin to intrude ever more forcefully into the present - changing forever his living death and her ordered life.

"The Sound of One Hand Clapping is about the underbelly of Australia, the barbarism of Europe, and the destiny of those in the country beyond hope who seek to redeem themselves through love."

"destined to be classic" - Sunday Herald Sun
"A truly extraordinary work: vivid, passionate and utterly compelling. The Sound of One Hand Clapping is raw as a wound. It opens a world that is strange, brutal and poetic at once and ultimately achieves the kind of spirit-healing few novels do" - Niall Williams, author of Four Letters of Love
"Flanagan has crafted a book of immmense beauty which holds within it love, grief and a dissection of the anatomy of hurting that is haunting and unforgettable...The Sound of One Hand Clapping is a book that leaves one humble. In building character, layer upon layer, Flanagan compels compassion where we would judge, finds value where all is lost. His book comforts as it confronts. It shines and cuts like a laser' - Canberra Times
"He has the capacity to give voice to wordless passions, primal voices that whisper and echo though memory. Tasmania reverberates throughout The Sound of One Hand Clapping like a monumental force; a character in its own right" - Sunday Times

First Paragraph:

All this you will come to understand but can never know, and all of it took place long, long ago in a world that has since perished into peat, in a forgotten winter on an island of which few have ever heard. It began in that time before snow, completely and irrevocably, covers footprints. As black clouds shroud the star and moonlit heavens, as an unshadowable darkness comes upon the whispering land.

At that precise moment around which time was to cusp, Maria Buloh's burgundy-coloured shoes reached the third and lowest snow-powdered step outside their wooden hut. It was then, as she turned her face away from the hut, that Maria Buloh knew she had already gone too far and that she could no longer return.

From the Picador paperback edition, 2000.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping was the winner of the 1998 Victorian Premier's Prize for Best Novel, and the 1999 ABA Australian Book of the Year Prize. It was also shortlisted for the 1998 Miles Franklin Award. A film version of this novel, with the same name, was released in 1998, directed and written by Richard Flanagan and featured Kerry Fox and Kristof Kaczmarek.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2001-04 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: December 20, 2004.