Five words from the blurb: South Africa, past, family, crimes, truth
Absolution is set in post-apartheid South Africa and looks at truth, censorship and whether or not it is possible to forgive past mistakes.
The book concentrates on Clare Wald, a South African novelist, who has decided to commission a biography of her life. She hires Sam to write the book and it quickly becomes obvious that they have a shared past. The connections between them are slowly revealed through a multi-layered narrative that is often confusing and contradictory.
The writing in the book was of a very high quality and individual scenes were vivid and packed with atmosphere, but I disliked the disjointed nature of the narrative. I appreciated what the book was trying to achieve, but the structure meant I was often frustrated. I disliked being continually misled and ended up feeling I couldn’t trust anything that was being said. This led me to disconnect from the characters, so I failed to have an emotional response to the text.
The book feels like an accurate depiction of modern South Africa and it brings up many interesting moral questions. There is a lot to like, but I felt that understanding everything was too onerous a task. Sometimes less is more.
Recommended to fans of literary fiction who enjoy piecing together a complex narrative.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
…a complicated but beautiful book about the secrets that some people try to leave behind. A Bookish Affair
…a staggering, wonderful and accomplished book. Boston Bibliophile
It’s a book that asks difficult moral questions for which there may never be any satisfactory answers. Literary Corner Cafe