A famous Zen koan asks, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” This is, of course, a question without an answer.
Richard Flanagan’s novel, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, is a meditation on family and loss. The story focuses on the relationship between Sonja Buloh and her father, Bojan. Fleeing the horrors of World War II, Bojan and his wife immigrate from Slovenia to work on hydroelectric projects in rural Tasmania. When Sonja is three, her mother commits suicide, leaving the alcoholic Bojan to care for his daughter alone. In 1989, a middle-aged Sonja returns to Tasmania to reconnect with her father and discover the secrets of her past.
An intensely private and depressing novel, The Sound of One Hand Clapping remains a beautiful tribute to the power of family and the universal human need for belonging.
Review Submitted by: Kaitlyn Grigsby