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A Family Madness

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  90 ratings  ·  7 reviews
The fatal and desperate politics of Eastern Europe collide with the comparative innocence and complacency of suburban Australian life in this powerful and disturbing love story about two families and the madness that invades their lives.

Terry Delaney leads a relatively satisfying life as a security guard and as a passionate rugby player with a shot at pro-team success. But

Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 1st 1993 by Touchstone (first published January 1st 1985)
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In this book Second World War Eastern European Belarusan nationalism meets Australian league rugby and suburban angst.

The portrayal of the obscure self-justifying struggles of Belarusan nationalists, cooperating with the Nazis and the Soviets, trying to carve out their own nation, casually dismissing their participation in the slaughter of Jews (that's my family they are talking about.... my recent Jewish ancestors lived in Belarus and many were killed there by Nazis, probably aided by Belarusan
The hero is a rugby player and much of the book is in rugby language. I know nothing about rugby, so it was tough going.

Keneally explores, in this fascinating novel, the effects of history, specifically the violent history of Belorussia during World War II, on our ahistorical present, specifically suburban Sydney, Australia. As in his far more famous Schindler's List, no one is completely good or evil; there are admirable Nazis and detestable police men. Excellent.

I had a friend in Belorussia a
Borrowed book from a friend while on holiday as I ran out of reading material. The book reads like two, or possibly three books squeezed into one, as though Keneally threw the basis of what 'could have been' into a mish mash of unrelated narratives. I found the format distracting which did not allow the full development of the underlying themes. I'm still struggling to understand what a rugby league player in '80s NSW has to do with destructive politics & powers of WWII. The only saving gra ...more
I mistakenly grabbed this off the library shelf thinking it was set in Kempsey (A River Town). It was not. However, Keneally explores in this novel, the effects of history, specifically the violent history of Belorussia during World War II, on our historical present, specifically suburban Sydney. As in his far more famous Schindler's List, no one is completely good or evil; there are admirable Nazis and detestable police men.
This taut and gripping novel delves into the warped politics of Nazi collaboration during WWII, juxtaposed with 1980s Australia, both narrative tracks marking the obsessions of love and vengeance. The characters are alive on the page, each voice distinct, and I'd categorize its tone as literary over cinematic. Don't seek anything that might give the plot away--just read the novel and appreciate its author's fine craft.
Another winner from down under by Thomas Keneally. There were more switchbacks than on the Hwy 211 or Albee Creek road from the Albee Creek campground to Cape Mendicino on the Pacific Ocean. It's complicated, but I enjoyed both rides.
David Becker
Keneally has a particular gift for making history personal (and mightily compelling). This novel switches back-and-forth between present-day Australia and World War II Belarus. The Belarussian struggle for independence may not sound like a fountain of inspiration, but in Keneally's hands it's the stuff of grand drama and intense personal revelation. The lines between hero and madmen, patriot and fool, constantly get smudged. The novel was written before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and know ...more
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Thomas Michael Keneally, AO (born 7 October 1935) is an Australian novelist, playwright and author of non-fiction. He is best known for writing Schindler's Ark, the Booker Prize-winning novel of 1982, which was inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor. The book would later be adapted to Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), which won the Academy Award for Best Pict ...more
More about Thomas Keneally...
Schindler's List The Daughters of Mars The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia Searching for Schindler: A Memoir

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