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The Sound of One Hand Clapping

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,305 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
A sweeping novel of world war, migration, and the search for new beginnings in a new land, The Sound of One Hand Clapping was both critically acclaimed and a best-seller in Australia. It is a virtuoso performance from an Australian who is emerging as one of our most talented new storytellers. It was 1954, in a construction camp for a hydroelectric dam in the remote Tasmani ...more
Paperback, 425 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Grove Press (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 06, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a powerful and intensely sad novel, which deals with loss, alienation and the power of human beings to inflict pain on those they love most. The title comes from a Zen koan - a philosophical riddle - formulated by the Japanese Zen Master Hakuin Ekaku, who asked "You know the sound of two hands clapping; tell me, what is the sound of one hand?" As I understand it, the student of Zen is supposed to meditate on this riddle until insight or enlightenment occurs. The point is that there is no
This author's manner of writing doesn't fit me. I tried to read Death of a River Guide several years ago and gave up. I don't quit books very often! I found that one confusing and disjointed. There is such praise given to this author. I felt my dislike had to be a misjudgment on my part, so I decided to try another book, this one: The Sound of One Hand Clapping. My view remains the same. At least this time I finished the book!

I will try to be very specific about what in the writing disturbs me.
I knew the title was a koan, but had to look it up......

"What is the Sound of the Single Hand clapping? When you clap together both hands a sharp sound is heard; when you raise the one hand there is neither sound nor smell. Is this the High Heaven of which Confucius speaks? Or is it the essentials of what Yamamba describes in these words: "The echo of the completely empty valley bears tidings heard from the soundless sound?" This is something that can by no means be heard with the ear. If concep
Jul 30, 2011 ·Karen· rated it it was ok
Shelves: australia-nz
Too long. Or maybe I just took too long to get into it, left it too long in between times. That is death to any book. And it is a painful story. Flanagan is stuck with a quandary: two broken protagonists, damaged by the past, unable to feel, unable to speak, unable to reach out to each other. How do you build a bridge between them and the reader? How do you show the horror and the cruelty and the violence? Flanagan uses a sweeping allegorical style, with the force and violence of nature matching ...more
Dana Dumitru
Apr 26, 2016 Dana Dumitru rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Să bați din palme cu o singură mână" este un amestec de agonie şi momente sublime de fericire, construit pe baza relaţiei complicate dintre tată şi fiică. Sonja pendulează între dorinţa de a-şi ierta şi înţelege tatăl alcoolic, şi încrederea naivă că mama ei s-ar putea întoarce, în ciuda abandonării sale la vârsta de doar trei ani. Regresia în trecut este o călătorie spre sine ce o ajută să înţeleagă, de exemplu, de ce nu poate să menţină o relaţie adultă stabilă. Viaţa Sonjei pe tărâmul îndepă ...more
Mar 22, 2009 Emma rated it it was amazing
After reading Gould's Book of Fish I was eager to discover more of Richard Flanagan's work.

In this book I found the same creative, descriptive writing style as in Gould's. And despite there being instances where the writing style blends the past and present, magic and memories and borders on the surreal, the story itself comes through as clear and real as anything, without any of the eccentricities that made the plot of Gould's rather bizarre and confused at times.

The Sound of One Hand Clappin
Mar 21, 2016 Cristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oct 21, 2011 Vicki rated it really liked it
This book came with rave reviews but I have struggled with other Richard Flanagan books. The slow start had me thinking this would be another tortured read. I can't define the point which it took off but before long I couldn't put in down. I now understand why this book is considered an Australian classic.
Mar 13, 2011 Sheryll rated it liked it
I nearly quit this book on page 20:
"In that year of revolutions, she was driving through a time grown momentarily molten. In a growing gyre, she felt time circling her, at first slowly, as if waiting. And though it seemed dreams were being born within dreams, it was not so. It was only Tasmania in the spring.

"When at length light returned - strangely, as if curious - it was to a land at once alien and familiar. Bearing the bruised country into hamlets' hearts, slow rivers carried broken willow
Jul 20, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
Maybe 4.5 out of 5 as it was a little long....but heart wrenching though has an uplifting ending. Tells the story of immigrants to Tasmania after WW2 and the long term effects of what they have witnessed combined with the 'strangeness' of Tasmania.

Beautifully written.
Cărți și călătorii
Fragmente de aici:

E primul roman de Flanagan pe care l-am citit, deși am mai auzit de Gould's Book of Fish și, sigur, de O cale îngustă spre nordul îndepărtat, care a primit premiul Man Booker în 2014. Editura ne informează că „este considerat unul dintre cei mai buni scriitori australieni ai generației sale” și, citind romanul de față, înțeleg și de ce. Cu toate acestea, lectura mi-a lăsat un gust amar. O să încerc să-mi nuanțez impresiile mai jos.
Marilena Iovu
Apr 17, 2016 Marilena Iovu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vorba lui Bojan Buloh : "sunt unele lucruri care contează mai mult decât cuvintele." Și există autori care te duc cu vorba, apoi, fără veste, îți răsucesc cuțitul în rană, pentru ca în final să te panseze și să îți vindece sufletul rănit la fel de ușor. Aș citi oricând, orice scris de Flanagan.

"Pe atunci timpul era altfel, iar copilăria nu era o parte din viață, ci din mai multe vieți la un loc, alcătuind o interminabilă dimineață plină de praf."

"Bojan Buloh se uită la ea, la fata lui frumoasă,
Jun 13, 2015 Melaslithos rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, oceania
This is the second book I've read from Richard Flanagan. I have to thank the World's Literature for the discovery.

The first book I read from this author for our tour down under was Death of a River Guide. In a certain way, I feel that both books are kind of the same, but with The Sound of One Hand Clapping being better. After all, it was written after the first one, so the author had time to better himself.

Both books are about poor families trying to survive in Tasmania, with jumps through times
Apr 30, 2016 Flori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Minunata! Una dintre cele mai frumoase citite de mine vreodata!
Gen Lebovitch
Jul 23, 2008 Gen Lebovitch rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone (mostly people who like characters and real life drama)
Recommended to Gen by: no one
I loved this book. I loved how the author causes you to go on a journey of self reflection with the main character and how often you are swept away by her emotions. I found I could feel every emotion that the characters feel and had no choice. When you open this bookl be prepared to be swept away by a huge tidal wave of feeling and description.
Glen U
Mar 16, 2016 Glen U rated it it was amazing
Richard Flanagan, in my humble opinion, is one of the premier writers of the late '90's and on into our present times. Although this book was written close to twenty years ago, it is truly a masterpiece, easily rivaling his Mann Booker winner, "The Narrow Road to the Deep North". Like "The Narrow Road..." it is tragic, dark and despairing, at times. But it is written with such emotion and feeling, it is also compelling and a true insight into the human condition. The characters in the book are s ...more
Jan 03, 2011 Marko rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book, but the melodramatic writing style ruined what was otherwise a very powerful novel about the Old World and the New World, with truly beautiful descriptions of the Tasmanian landscape to boot. It is just a pity the way it was written.
Nov 07, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreakingly good. Mother walks out the door one snowy evening leaving her 3 yo alone for Daddy's return. Girl and father do their best. Dad's no knight. Lots of WWII baggage. life's tough. Title fits the story.

"...But who of us ever determines the one thing we believe most fundamental, the thing that is the the truest expression of their soul? Of course, it can be objected by those whose circumstances are fortunately propitious, and who therefore are able to explore the endless possibilities
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jun 23, 2015 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it it was amazing
‘I like new, see, because it doesn’t remember.’

Set in Tasmania, this novel is centred around Sonja Buloh and focusses on three periods of her life: as a very young child, living with both of her parents in a remote construction camp; as a slightly older child after her mother disappears; and as an adult who, full of questions about the past, returns to Tasmania.

Sonja Buloh remembers little about the night that her mother Maria walked out of their hut at the construction camp at Butlers Gorge in
Gisela Hafezparast
May 04, 2015 Gisela Hafezparast rated it liked it
I was very interesting in the story line, which is basically of a couple immigrating literally half-way around the world to get away from their horrific past in the Slovenia after WW2. It starts with a still very young women leaving her young daughter never to be heard of again. From then on it jumps between the various decades as the daughter tries to make sense of her and her parents destroyed lives. So, really interesting story line. Whilst there is some beautiful, insightful writing into the ...more
Sharon Albanese
Oct 14, 2014 Sharon Albanese rated it it was amazing
This is my second Richard Flanagan book in a row, and both of them have similar themes of damaged characters, broken by a war full of sadness and cruelty, childhoods with horrors and destruction and death. And what a writer this man is! Neither of these books were easy reads, yet both were so compelling and beautiful that I could not put them down. This book is incredible in its portrayal of a family shattered and destroyed by the past, of lives disrupted and pulled apart, and finally of a light ...more
Jayne Charles
May 21, 2014 Jayne Charles rated it it was ok
If you like relentless misery this could well be the book for you. The story of a European immigrant family living in Tasmania in the 1950s sounded interesting enough, but I think it was the manner of the telling that put me off. I acknowledge the author has a poetic way with words, and could write about the wild landscape of Tasmania for page after page and make it different every time, but I found myself dragged down by the constant unhappiness and dissatisfaction. I’ve enjoyed plenty of downb ...more
Victoria Young
May 04, 2012 Victoria Young rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian, families
I first attempted reading this book when it was first published fifteen years ago. Unfortunately I was about ten at the time, and though I could read the words and I could tell there was something special there, I didn't have the emotional development to understand what I was reading. The library recalled it when I was halfway through and fifteen years went past before I picked it up again.

I've often thought about Flanagan's story of the sad little Tasmanian-born Slovenian girl since then, and a
Mar 07, 2011 Zoë rated it it was amazing
This book is heart-wrenching, as it tells the story of Sonja Bulloh, whose mother Maria disappears when she is just a baby. Left with her violent father, Sonja learns that as the daughter of a working class immigrant family she has little value. When she grows up, Sonja works at a TV studio, where she unearths footage of her father labouring to build a Tasmanian dam. She is callously told by the producers, however, to cut out these scenes: they are not relevant or interesting enough for TV audie ...more
Adina Pop
Apr 09, 2016 Adina Pop rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O carte emoționantă,o citești cu sufletul la gură .E una din cele mai bune cărți citite de mine.
Karyn Mossman
Aug 16, 2015 Karyn Mossman rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Whilst I haven't read a lot of Flannagans work the two novels I have read have been a wonderful investment of my time! Set in Tasmania during the late 1950's the novel follows the relationship between a father and daughter who emigrate to Australia in search of a new life after physically surviving the horrors of WW2. Rich and evocative the story reminds us that the destruction wrought by war continues long after the media reports its end and that even generations not yet born during the bloodsh ...more
Andrew Cox
Nov 21, 2015 Andrew Cox rated it really liked it
This book had been sitting on my book shelf for years. I had been recommended "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" which I enjoyed not realising that I already had one of Flanagan's novels. There are similarities in that both books deal with very difficult circumstances & the main characters are very flawed. The sense of history was very strong & how war has such a devastating affect on future generations. The experience of migrants escaping harrowing & devastating lives in war torn E ...more
Jul 10, 2015 Augiemarch rated it really liked it
Sound of One Hand Clapping
I think this is one of the most interesting book titles I have ever read. I saw Flanagan on several occasions at the Sydney Writers Festival. He is a man of great conviction. He made a statement that if it were not for public education then the grandson of illiterate workers would have never become an award-winning author. It was a powerful statement.
I went to this book after having read “Narrow Road to the Deep North” and “The Unknown Terrorist.”
The novel tells the sto
Sarah Honenberger
Mar 21, 2011 Sarah Honenberger rated it really liked it
So far, it's been slow but fascinating. That very definite Scandinavian succinctness. The revelation about her mother comes too far into the book, surprised me and her father's telling it also, when he did. So I'll finish it because it's so unique but am not sure I'd rush to read another Flanagan right away.Very dark, and redemption is so chancy, not really earned. In some places the writing is stunning, but it's not a must read for me. Clearly, though, the author works seriously at his story-te ...more
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The World's Liter...: TASMANIA: The Sound of One Hand Clapping / Flanagan 33 21 May 02, 2015 10:20PM  
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  • The Great World
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  • The Harp in the South
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  • Coonardoo
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Richard Flanagan (born 1961) is an author, historian and film director from Tasmania, Australia. He was president of the Tasmania University Union and a Rhodes Scholar. Each of his novels has attracted major praise. His first, Death of a River Guide (1994), was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, as were his next two, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997) and Gould's Book of Fish (2001). Hi ...more
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