Absolution by Patrick Flanery

87%

20 Critic Reviews

Flanery has talent to spare, and he’s a talent to keep an eye on. My bet is he’ll be back. And he’ll be even better next time.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A bold and exciting literary novel set in South Africa that contemplates the elusive line between truth and self-perception.

Ambitious and assured, Absolution propels the reader to the final page in a drive to discover the secrets and truths at its core. How or why did a young antiapartheid activist disappear twenty years earlier? How does that event link the present-day characters? And how does it explain the choices they have made or the lies they may tell themselves?

Absolution is a big-idea novel about the pitfalls of memory, the ramifications of censorship, and the ways we are silently complicit in the problems around us. It’s also a devastating, intimate, and stunningly woven story. Told in shifting perspectives, it centers on the mysterious character of Clare Wald, a controversial South African writer of great fame, haunted by the memories of a sister she fears she betrayed to her death and a daughter she fears she abandoned. Clare comes to learn that in this conflict the dead do not stay buried, and the missing return in other forms—such as the child witness of her daughter’s last days who has reappeared twenty years later as Clare’s official biographer, prompting an unraveling of history and a search for forgiveness. Part literary thriller, part meditation on the responsibility of the individual under totalitarianism, this is a masterpiece of rich, complicated characters and narration that captures the reader and does not let go.

 

About Patrick Flanery

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PATRICK FLANERY was born in California and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He lives in London.
 
Published April 12, 2012 by Riverhead. 396 pages
Genres: Other, History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, War, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Absolution
All: 20 | Positive: 18 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
Apr 01 2012

Complex in theme, complex in narrative, this is a masterful literary exploration of the specter of conscience and the formidable cost of reconciliation.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Christopher Hope on Mar 16 2012

One of the constant strengths of this novel is the way it faces the violence of everyday life and the unpalatable reality...

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Adam O'Riordan on Feb 25 2012

At times Flanery's prose evokes Graham Greene; but Wald's search for profundity can feel a little contrived.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Apr 16 2012

Adeptly orchestrating multiple points of view, Flanery builds intrigue by allowing his characters’ unreliable interpretations of history

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Alexanrda Fuller on Apr 27 2012

Flanery has talent to spare, and he’s a talent to keep an eye on. My bet is he’ll be back. And he’ll be even better next time.

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Wall Street Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by Martin Rubin on Apr 13 2012

With a sure grasp amazing in a neophyte novelist, he manages to navigate his narrative through twists and turns and stunning revelations that cast new light on characters and situations already delineated with insight and subtlety.

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on May 11 2012

Flanery’s decision to forego any kind of portrayal of black South African culture sits uneasily.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Lucy Beresford on Mar 06 2012

The prose surges with enjoyable debate about the slipperiness of truth, the nature of forgiveness, and whether fiction is more honest than non-fiction.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Leyla Sanai on Mar 27 2012

Flanery's portrayal of South Africa is explosively powerful... This is an exceptionally intelligent, multi-layered novel encompassing politics, history, a gripping storyline and complex characters.

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The New Yorker

Excellent
Reviewed by Philip Gourevitch on Apr 30 2012

He brings the book’s many stories together at last, but there is no pretense that they are over. Leaving them unresolved may be the most hopeful ending possible.

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New Statesman

Excellent
Reviewed by Leo Robson on Mar 29 2012

Flanery is a warmer writer than Coetzee, his relationship with the reader more conventional, and the book's flaws are generally earthbound ones - flaws of craft rather than vision.

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Shelf Awareness

Excellent
Reviewed by Bruce Jacobs

Patrick Flanery's nuanced, multilayered narrative unravels the mysterious pasts of two South African writers embroiled in their country's political conflict.

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The Rumpus

Excellent
Reviewed by Ed Winstead on May 07 2012

Flanery’s triumph in Absolution is not in the writing, which is crisp, precise, and wholly a pleasure to read.... It is a novel about the guilt that we all share, and the absolution that we are all seeking...

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Edmonton Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by Candace Fertile on Mar 24 2012

The brilliance of this novel lies in its exquisite use of language...Its beauty is overwhelming, but so is its horror.

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The South African

Excellent
Reviewed by Nicole Holgate on Feb 15 2012

Mature, fascinating and precise, this is not the friendliest novel, but nonetheless grips you to pursue it to the end.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Lauren Bufferd

Absolution is a must read for anyone interested in South Africa, or in literary fiction of the finest kind.

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Boston Bibliophile

Good
Reviewed by Marie on Apr 26 2012

Patrick Flanery may be a debut author but he tackles these prickly, unpredictable people and writes about difficult social, political and personal issues like a seasoned veteran.

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Literary Corner Cafe Blog

Good
Apr 23 2012

It’s a book, that like South Africa, itself, contains a beauty – and a horror – that’s truly overwhelming.

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Just William's Luck

Good
Reviewed by William Rycroft on Feb 28 2012

...the skill with which Flanery constructs the novel around those details makes this a rewardingly adult read...

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Selections from My Tower of Shame

Good
Apr 30 2012

It is wonderfully written and quite clever with two terrifically compelling narrators.

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Reader Rating for Absolution
76%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 41 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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