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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  182 ratings  ·  20 reviews
J.J. has always been more at home in Sign language than in spoken English. Recently divorced, he returns to school to teach Sign. His pupils include the foster parents of a beautiful and highly intelligent ape named Eliza. The author has also written "Maestro" and "Honk If You Are Jesus".
299 pages
Published (first published 1995)
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  182 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Brooks
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an unexpected book in so many ways. It is a love story, a treastise on humanity and all that entails; it's about being deaf and perceptions of that, and also a profoundly sad story that puts relationships under the microscope - sexual, non-sexual, those between friends and beyond. It tells the story of JJ, a teacher of sign language who is recently divorced and in pain. When he's asked to teach a loving and humanised gorilla to communicate, a relationship develops that is not what anyone ...more
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I like Goldsworthy's writing, and this shortish book is an intriguing and fantastic tale of a man's relationship with an ape. A suburban tale of anima-philia.
Sandra Prosser
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember the cover, I don't think that this was it, as we definitely did not have any preconceived ideas about the topic of this book. This is one of those books that is fascinating and is still remembered (rightly or wrongly) and mentioned in our book club almost a decade later. So much to discuss! Tip - make sure someone else reads it at the same time as you, so you can debrief afterward!
Darby Stilwell
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Required reading
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book.

I saw Peter Goldsworthy talk briefly about this novel on a Jennifer Byrne Presents TV special about animals, and all I remember him saying that this is the book which 'turned a lot of readers off' him - so of course I wanted to read it immediately.

The only gripe I have is that the cover (which depicts a gorilla) gives too much away. After watching the book show I probably already knew too much, and although I'm not a great one for guessing how stories are going to go, I coul
Blue Mountains Library
John (JJ) was born with perfect hearing, to parents who were profoundly deaf. From infancy he learned sign language from them, adding normal human speech when he was older. He loved and respected Sign, its shades of meaning, its possibilities for humour. His marriage to Jill, as the story opens, has foundered “on the shifting sands of spoken words”, and he takes a job at the Deaf Institute, teaching Sign. Two of his students show immediate interest and aptitude. They initiate a relationship with ...more
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Text Publishing
‘[Goldsworthy’s] greatest achievement…Brave, brilliant, as intellectually challenging as it is playful, it is testament to a restless and unpredictable imagination.’
James Bradley

‘Stylish, imaginative, poignant, and hugely unsettling.’

‘A deeply satisfying book…represents a new achievement in his fiction…Read it. You won’t find another novel like it.’
Adelaide Review
Sep 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I was really enjoying this book until it got extremely creepy towards the end. Apparently a lot of people were put off Goldsworthy after reading this...

The Auslan aspect was intriguing. It is portrayed as a very beautiful language which may sometimes be more expressive than spoken English.

It has inspired me to read further on human to animal communication.

Heather Browning
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, animals, life
A deep exploration of a lot of philosophical issues, through the role of language in shaping our awareness, our treatment of animals, animal consciousness and the nature of personhood. Although quite confronting, it definitely provided food for thought. Also made me quite interested in learning Auslan, I'd had no idea about the depth and beauty of the language.
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
The first 3/4 of this book were a solid 5 stars for me - beautifully written, great characters, fabulous plot, engaging... and then the ending. Out of nowhere, it veered down this mental path at warp speed. Nutso. Still worth a 4 overall but can't help feeling it didn't need to be so twisted.
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
oh my. This is a moral workout, and I am fitter for reading it. Wonderful and emotional, but also profoundly philosophically canny.
Kay Hart
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's a link to the review I wrote for the online journal Transnational Literature - enjoy the journal too.
Vicki Tyley
May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very confronting.
Seabastion Toast
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
disturbing but brilliant
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: australian
Bit disturbing
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Aug 11, 2014
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Feb 25, 2012
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Dieneke Oostindier
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Feb 09, 2011
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Peter Goldsworthy grew up in various Australian country towns, finishing his schooling in Darwin. After graduating in medicine from the University of Adelaide in 1974, he worked for many years in alcohol and drug rehabiiltation. Since then, he has divided his time equally between writing and general practice. He has won major literary awards across a range of genres: poetry, short story, the novel ...more
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