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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Australian Bookseller's Choice Award, this is a modern Australian classic set in Tasmania.
In 1954, in a construction camp for a hydroelectric dam in the remote Tasmanian highlands, 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.
©1997 Richard Flanagan (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
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Customer Reviews

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By Brodie on 08-09-13

Far from easy listening

But don't let that turn you off. Great read but complex. A library keeper for re-listening from time to time. Like a good wine I think it will grow on those with the tenacity to go the distance.

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By Anthony on 09-30-13

Migration, racism, identity & violence in Tasmania

Beautifully written and narrated - the story of a Slovenian unskilled worker, migrating to Tasmania in search of a better future. Against the backdrop of racism, alcohol and violence, we learn of the stories experienced by these migrants, prior to their departure from Europe, and of how the violence recurs to dominate family members in Tasmania.

Beautifully written and narrated, the violence is as predictable as inevitable, anticipated by the reader in the same way that Sylvia, the daughter, awaits her drunken father's repeated physical abuse.

It's a story also of resilience by a young woman who exercises her agency to escape and take control of her own life, despite all the adversity, and about the deep bonds exerted by family alongside the hurt.

The novel informs us also of the post-World War II Europeans who settled in Australia and helped build its infrastructure, and of the systematic racism, exploitation and poverty they faced. The stories and tragedies from their European homelands structure their identities and challenging lives in Tasmania.

From one generation to the next, prior identity is attenuated and new identities formed. Despite much bleakness, this is also a story of agency and resilience, of overcoming violence and abuse, and of building the future.

Highly recommended!

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

By Barbara on 01-03-15


I read this while in bed suffering from Nurovirus - suited my mood exactly! Excellent portrayal of refugee struggle for a better life. Not a holiday read though.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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By Suzie on 11-03-17


The story was like no other. The narration was excellent. Perhaps a book all people should read.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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