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Based on true events, this beautifully rendered novel from the author of Schindler’s List and The Daughters of Mars brilliantly explores a World War II prison camp, where Japanese prisoners resolve to take drastic action to wipe away their shame.
Alice is a young woman living on her father-in-law’s farm on the edge of an Australian country town, while her husband is held prisoner in Europe. When Giancarlo, an Italian anarchist at the prisoner-of-war camp down the road, is assigned to work on the farm, she hopes that being kind to him will somehow influence her husband’s treatment. What she doesn’t anticipate is how dramatically Giancarlo will expand her outlook and self-knowledge.
But what most challenges Alice and her fellow townspeople is the utter foreignness of the thousand-plus Japanese inmates and their culture, which the camp commanders fatally misread. Mortified by being taken alive in battle and preferring a violent death to the shame of living, they plan an outbreak, to shattering and far-reaching effects on all the citizens around them.
In a career spanning half a century, Thomas Keneally has proved a master at exploring ordinary lives caught up in extraordinary events. With this profoundly gripping and thought-provoking novel, inspired by a notorious incident in New South Wales in 1944, he once again shows why he is celebrated as a writer who “looks into the heart of the human condition with a piercing intelligence that few can match” (Sunday Telegraph).
About the Author
Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published thirty-three novels since, most recently Crimes of the Father, Napoleon’s Last Island, Shame and the Captives, and the New York Times bestselling The Daughters of Mars. His novels include Schindler’s List, which won the Booker Prize in 1982, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest, and Confederates, all of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written several works of nonfiction, including his boyhood memoir Homebush Boy, The Commonwealth of Thieves, and Searching for Schindler. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney, Australia.
"Keneally is especially good at rendering the small psychological adjustments made between people embarking on intimacy."
“If the legendary Schindler’s List was not enough to showcase Thomas Keneally’s literary mastery, then Shame and the Captives surely will….It is clear from the start how thorough are Keneally’s research and cultural understanding; and he showcases them with brilliant, masterful writing....[A]n example of fine writing that has the power to entice modern readers and those interested in the truthful reflection of the human spirit, no matter the place, culture or generation.”
"[Keneally's] prose is stunning, his plot all too vivid, his characters haunting.”
"Once again, Keneally reaches back to the WWII era to stunningly dramatic effect...explores multiple and multifaceted themes of courage, loyalty, empathy, and cultural dissonance."
“Keneally shares his deeply believable and flawed characters' conflicting perspectives sensitively and with great empathy,expressing the full range of humanity in a few hundred pages. He does an extraordinary job of making all his characters compelling and sympathetic, with fully formed back stories, even those whose perspectives are likely to be the most "foreign" to the reader…. Keneally blends history, romance and wartime intrigue in a remarkable piece of historical fiction with a strong sense of place and time.”
"No one equals Keneally for documenting the actions of human beings caught up in war, some desperate to hold onto their humanity, others desperate to die."
"This is historical writing at its best. The details of life in both the prison camp and the civilian/military personnel in Gawell are based upon research into a similar prison break elsewhere during the war. This is a must-read for those who enjoy well-researched and atmospheric novels of World War II. The reader can feel the shame felt by the Japanese prisoners, and their preference for a merciless death to the humiliation of imprisonment. An exceptional story, highly recommended."
PRAISE FOR THOMAS KENEALLY:
"[Keneally] gives vivid human faces to the victims and the perpetrators of war. He weaves his magic and the reader falls under his spell... Keneally negotiates the separate and intertwining narratives with his usual elegance and skill."
"There is an intelligence and a mastery of conventional modes of narrative that must be acknowledged... Shame and the Captives entertains and informs."
"[Keneally] looks into the heart of the human condition with a piercing intelligence that few can match."
"Keneally has a Tolstoy-like gift for getting into his characters’ heads, as well as for portraying great turns of history in scenes of everyday life."
"Keneally's gift, and his blessing to the many hundreds of characters he has created, is always to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. Each of them rises out of and above their varying backgrounds: the class, religion, ambition that mark but do not define them . . . Yet another of Keneally's grand entertainments."
“Like the warriors of Homer’s Iliad, Keneally gives readers a sense of the vast and continuous casualties dealt by war and reminds us that each soldier was once a boy armed with little more than a pitchfork.”
“A master storyteller."
“Keneally shares his deeply believable and flawedcharacters' conflicting perspectives sensitively and with great empathy,expressing the full range of humanity in a few hundred pages. He does anextraordinary job of making all his characters compelling and sympathetic, withfully formed back stories, even those whose perspectives are likely to be themost "foreign" to the reader…. Keneally blends history, romance andwartime intrigue in a remarkable piece of historical fiction with a strongsense of place and time.”