Annabel Smith's Reviews > The Street Sweeper

The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman
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Mar 06, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: australian, 5-star-rated, faves, 2012-faves
Recommended to Annabel by: Gayle
Recommended for: Literally everyone should read this
Read from March 06 to 15, 2012 — I own a copy

In The Street Sweeper, Elliot Perlman weaves a number of narratives together against the backdrops of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights movement in America. Perlman has the gift for telling a story you think you already know but making you feel it as though you are hearing it for the first time.

The Street Sweeper begins with the story of Lamont Williams, a young African American man, and Adam Zelegnik, a history professor from Colombia University whose lives are seemingly worlds apart. The stories of these two men are underpinned in surprising ways by the stories of two men who lived decades before: Henryk Mandelbrot, a holocaust survivor, and Henry Border, a psychologist who recorded the experiences of Jews liberated from death camps after the Second World War.

The connections between the four stories emerge gradually and with great suspense. Despite the many plot strands and continual movement between past and present in the action of the novel, Perlman handles the shifts of chronology and point of view with such dexterity that the reader is never left behind.

The novel draws subtle parallels between the racism against African Americans in the USA in the mid-century, and the racism against the Jews in Europe which eventually led to what is now known as the Holocaust. There are some harrowing scenes in the novel, of both clashes between black and whites in America and of the Nazi death camps. The novel sheds light on the fact that in the years immediately after World War Two, most people did not want to know about the atrocities suffered by European Jews, while to the survivors, nothing could have been more important than for people to understand the indescribable horror of what they had experienced.

Perlman obviously did an enormous amount of research to write this book and displays great skill at using real historical events to create a riveting and deeply emotional narrative. The Street Sweeper is an incredibly achievement for Perlman and the questions it asks about history, about humanity are as relevant today as they have ever been. I cannot praise this book highly enough.
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02/08/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Gayle Here here!


Annabel Smith Wasn't it amazing? I finished it last night in a 200 page binge. I'm just writing a review now.


Gayle Annabel wrote: "Wasn't it amazing? I finished it last night in a 200 page binge. I'm just writing a review now."

Please look through others reviews.......you will see


Gayle Did I tell you I met him? He was lovely. Please read 7 Types now!!!


Annabel Smith Gayle wrote: "Did I tell you I met him? He was lovely. Please read 7 Types now!!!"

I saw him speak at the writers fest and afterwards he signed my book. *sigh* where did you meet him?


Annabel Smith Gayle wrote: "Did I tell you I met him? He was lovely. Please read 7 Types now!!!"

I have 2 more books to read for a review essay I'm writing and after that it will be nothing but ELliot!


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