Set in modern South Africa, an elderly acclaimed author searches for a daughter lost amongst the wreckage of her mother's failings and a nation's shadowed history. With this muscular debut novel, Flanery announces himself, quite simply, as a future literary sensation.
Patrick Flanery was born in California in 1975 and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. After earning a BFA in Film from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts he worked for three years in the film industry before moving to the UK, where he completed a doctorate in Twentieth-Century English Literature at the University of Oxford. As well as publishing scholarly articles on British and South African literature and film in a number of academic journals, he has written for Slightly Foxed and The Times Literary Supplement. He lives in London.
Flanery's intricate debut, full of shifting perspectives and temporal leaps, calls for disciplined sleuthing to fully realize its merits. Set mostly in a richly described postapartheid South Africa, the interconnected plot lines follow aging, contentious writer Clare Wald as she attempts to assemble the sordid details of her revolutionary daughter Laura's disappearance over two decades ago. She's also dealing with her own remorseless complicity in the assassination years ago of her sister and her sister's husband, a prominent figure in the National Party. Another plot finds Sam Leroux, a white South African whose parents died in a botched bombing and whose aunt was murdered in a robbery, returning to write Clare's biography, an act that slowly reveals complicated bonds between them. Yet many questions remain: what became of Laura? Was she involved in the death of Sam's parents? Who killed Sam's aunt, and was the death connected to a break-in witnessed by Clare? Which version of the truth, if any, is "real"? Adeptly orchestrating multiple points of view, Flanery builds intrigue by allowing his characters' unreliable interpretations of history, but with mixed results. Early understanding of the novel's confusing form (chapters entitled "Absolution" are from Clare's book, for one) would enable deeper, less frustrating reading. Still, this is a puzzle worth solving. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This "remarkably assured, atmospheric novel" investigates South Africa's past via an interview between a journalist and a distinguished novelist. (LJ 2/15/12) (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
'Flanery's portrayal of South Africa is explosively powerful... An exceptionally intelligent, multi-layered novel encompassing politics, history, a gripping storyline and complex characters. It has absorbing depictions of grief, guilt, parenthood and sibling rivalry, and is beautifully written... Absolution is an exceptional book.' Independent 'Patrick Flanery is an exceptionally gifted novelist, and he is just getting started.' New Yorker 'A taut literary thriller set in South Africa... A very clever, beautifully written book where the reader is constantly adjusting to noting being as it seems.' Daily Mail 'Compelling... At times, Flanery's prose evokes Graham Greene... A literary thriller whose writing is consistently first class.' Observer 'Gripping... The prose surges with enjoyable debate about the slipperiness of truth, the nature of forgiveness... Impressive.' Sunday Telegraph 'The wonder of this outstanding novel is that Flanery weaves the stories together with such assurance and craftsmanship, digging underneath many recieved ideas about the old and new South Africa.' The Times