ABSOLUTION PATRICK FLANERY PDF
A bold and exciting literary novel set in South Africa that contemplates the elusive line between truth and self-perception. Ambitious and assured,Â Absolut, ISBN. Set in contemporary South Africa, Absolution is the story of two individuals who Highly relevant and beautifully written, Patrick Flanery's haunting debut novel. As Sam and Clare turn over the events of her life, she begins to seek reconciliation, absolution. But in the stories she weaves and the truth just below the surface.
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A bold and exciting literary novel that contemplates the elusive line between truth and self-perception. Ambitious and assured, Absolution propels the reader to. This Absolution Flanery Patrick is actually fascinating to read. absolution patrick flanery pdf ebook catalogue - the english experience - why choose the. As a debut novel, Patrick Flanery's Absolution is a bold, assured piece. But are his descriptions of suburban South Africa too extreme?.
That tenor might best be framed as highly interrogative, skeptical, and, to use that phrase again, ethically alert. My experience of this kind of South Afri- can literary and intellectual culture has reshaped my thinking as much as doing my doctorate did, making me a more sensitive person, someone who is much more conscious of the way I sig- nify in the world, of my own position and situatedness.
Is it possible that your experience is less about South Africa and more about a particular moment in your life and writing career? I was aware of otherness at an early age, thanks to my experi- ences attending federally desegregated magnet schools in Omaha, but not in a way that was adequately attuned to the agency and the subjectivity of the Other.
I was aware of otherness in a way that was in fact highly objectifying. The simple answer is no. In the case of Absolution, I think those who see an absence of the racial other have not read as subtly or attentively as they might. Both characters are, in fact, not always comfortable but extremely important voices of ques- tioning within the world of the novel.
At the same time, Marie and Sam are characters whose white- ness is not entirely stable. That is not to say that either would regard her- or himself as a person of color; both are described as dark-complexioned in ways that might suggest belonging to Afrikaner families who think of themselves as white, even though that whiteness would have required policing.
I made a conscious decision not to label either Ms. Inso- far as it is concerned with race in particular, at its heart the novel operates as a critique of a particular strand of white South Afri- can subjectivity, in which I see the mirror of my own experience and legacy in America. Where Coetzee is beautifully spare, I have to strug- gle against linguistic plenitude; writing for me is a constant pro- cess of paring back and knowing I could always take away more.
All three of these writers take a quite dark view of history.
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Both characters have a troubled relationship to national belonging, and indeed both are accused of a brand of Afro-pessimism.
Are they of a similar breed of character, Clare and Elizabeth, jaded academics always casting doubt from just outside the spaces of struggle? The more pertinent point is the political one.
Like Clare, I often think that I might have done, might yet do, more, and more effectively in political terms, but instead I sit at my desk and write fantasies of lives unlived—although that, too, demands a kind of courage. Your interest in poststructuralism and in the novels of J. Not only does it risk alienating readers, it carries the far graver risk of being dated in very little time at all, irre- versibly superseded by the tide of history.
Some readers and not just South African ones have balked at my refusal to pass judgment, either on the current political landscape of the country or on the ways in which white char- acters in the novel exist in a torrent of concern about their own security. The book is in conversation not only with contemporary South African literature but also with the country itself.
In other words, for the purposes of national and geopolitical point of view, my physical location may be British, but my psychological and creative one is American.
What does it mean to you and to your work for American literature to be able to reach outside its national borders in this particular way? It may be a generational phenomenon, because I know I am not remotely alone among American writers concerned with writing about other countries, and indeed more and more of what we call American literature looks outward.
Like me, they seem to be as interested in the potential of writing about the rest of the world as they are in writing about America. My own attempts to write about elsewhere are in some respects a response to critiques from Europe in particular that American literature is solipsistic. Reading much more widely in other traditions is something American writers should see as a kind of duty, and an urgent one at that.
And those of us who live trans- national lives, as I do, cannot help wanting to draw on the expe- riences we have outside of the country of our birth. Absolution describes the majority-white urban spaces of South Africa as the epitome of security-state paranoia. What does the carceral do for you as both a trope and a material circumstance in Absolution? Perhaps I have read too much Foucault and now see evi- dence of the carceral everywhere I look—not just in South Africa, but also and especially in Britain and America.
There is, in reality, a prison at the heart of Beaufort West; the South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky made it the subject of one of his early projects. The refrigerators of many people I have visited in South Africa have locks even if they are not engaged or go unnoticed by their owners a South African journalist who interviewed me claimed she had never seen such a thing.
Absolution: Challenging but rewarding
Many people live with gates, walls, fences, alarms, panic buttons—not everyone, of course, and perhaps not even the majority. As Sam recognizes in the novel, there are other ways of living in the country—some by choice, some because one has no choice— although openness carries a very real risk because of the extremes of inequality that persist.
Armed guards patrol the sleek Gautrain that whisks travelers and commuters from the international air- port east of central Johannesburg into Sandton or Rosebank or central Johannesburg or Pretoria. Clare is imprisoned in grief and regret, Sam in longing, fear, national and cultural displacement, and grief of his own.
In my second novel, Fallen Land, the carceral is again an over- riding concern, both in terms of the security systems Americans have in their homes and in the phenomenon of private prisons. Might you say that Fallen Land is a kind of sequel to Abso- lution, following the global phenomenon of the security state apparatus from South Africa to a Midwestern city in the U.
Yes, entirely. In a more banal and rather comic way, I introduced a menacing white South African character in Fallen Land as the physical embodiment of the security state, and of a certain genre of the globalized corporation. Fallen Land takes up two very particular and very present historical catastrophes, using the architectural frame of a fore- closure-house to draw together the American housing crash of and the legacy of African American sharecropping.
The novel also returns to familiar personal if not creative territory for you, the Midwest of the United States. The book started with a mental image of a woman occu- pying a house she had lost. This came partly from the all-too- familiar stories of the foreclosure crisis, but also from the expe- rience of my paternal grandmother, who lost her home to foreclosure in the s and returned to it secretly for several weeks before she was discovered.
The novel that grew from this image is about a man, Paul Krovik, who has purchased a parcel of farmland from a black farm widow, Louise Washington, plan- ning to turn the plot into a suburb of luxury executive homes. Among the ghosts who haunt Wald is her father, a good judge in the apartheid years, whose liberal ideals she failed to match and whose wig turns up in unlikely places, a reminder of her shortcomings. There is her daughter, Laura, who backed violent resistance against the apartheid state and paid with her life.
There is her sister, also murdered, but in her case for supporting the old regime. Both deaths now seem to the old woman increasingly senseless, and she is convinced that she is somehow to blame.
Absolution is a book of questions about what is right and who is pure.
Might a liberal writer such as Wald have flirted with the censors who banned her work? In a nice doubling of ironies, Wald is writing her version of how she came to betray herself, and others, in a work she calls Absolution, while at the same time her life is being recorded by Leroux.
In one of the dramatic surprises Flanery does so well, it turns out that Leroux is closer to Wald for reasons each finds too painful to face. Flanery has set Absolution in the years before and after South Africa's first free election in , when white nationalists ceded power to black nationalists, who seem to grow, uncannily, more like the regime they have replaced. One of the constant strengths of this novel is the way it faces the violence of everyday life and the unpalatable reality that, nearly two decades after the coming of democracy, while party functionaries fatten themselves, the poor riot in the townships for a better life and the rich lock themselves behind suburban walls and electric fences.
Perhaps it helps that Flanery is an American; it gives him distance and a different take on things. His South Africa is familiar, yet slightly, strangely, off-key. His portrait of Cape Town in its eerie sedateness is very good, even if Johannesburg eludes him. But where it counts he gets it right. Wald's dilemma is how to face her failings and stand up for what she has written.
Absolution by Patrick Flanery - review
Writers of all stripes have a history of provoking South African regimes, all the way back to the very first settlements. The apartheid government took words into state ownership, perverted the meaning of some and forbade the use of others. And many people accepted this as normal in a country that had gone off its head.
But then as another American writer, Allen Drury , remarked nearly 50 years ago, after travelling through the country in a state of perpetual astonishment, South Africa is "a very strange society". His book of that title was banned by the masters of apartheid.
With censorship now likely to make a comeback under the current government, what writers do becomes increasingly important. And a novel like Absolution is timely. Topics Fiction. South Africa reviews.Enlarge cover. What does it mean to you and to your work for American literature to be able to reach outside its national borders in this particular way? Most popular. The beginning was very jumbly and confusing - which I think the author meant to use as a technique to give the reader a feel for the multiple angles and confusion caused by trying to figure things out in hindsight, as well as from multiple points of view.
Heavy use of present tense narration, of which I am generally not a fan.