After the Fire, A Still Small Voice

After the Fire, A Still Small Voice

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
Set in the haunting landscape of eastern Australia, this is a stunningly accomplished debut novel about the inescapable past: the ineffable ties of family, the wars fought by fathers and sons, and what goes unsaid.

After the departure of the woman he loves, Frank drives out to a shack by the ocean that he had last visited as a teenager. There, among the sugarcane and sand dunes, he struggles to rebuild his life.

Forty years earlier, Leon is growing up in Sydney, turning out treacle tarts at his parents’ bakery and flirting with one of the local girls. But when he’s drafted to serve in Vietnam, he finds himself suddenly confronting the same experiences that haunt his war-veteran father.

As these two stories weave around each other–each narrated in a voice as tender as it is fierce–we learn what binds Frank and Leon together, and what may end up keeping them apart.

Baker & Taylor
Fleeing to an ocean shack to escape painful memories and a relationship gone bad, Frank is unable to find the solitude he craves; while Vietnam veteran Leon explores the ways in which war destroyed both his and his Korean veteran father's family lives.

Blackwell North Amer
After the breakdown of a turbulent relationship, Frank moves from Canberra to a shack on the east coast once owned by his grandparents. He wants to put his violent past and bad memories of his father behind him. In this small coastal community, he tries to reinvent himself as someone capable of regular conversation and cordial relations. He even starts to make friends, including a precocious eight year old named Sal. But it is not that easy for him to let go of the past.
Leon is the child of European immigrants to Australia, living in Sydney. His father loves Australia for becoming their home when their own country turned hostile during the Second World War. His mother is not so comforted by suburban life in a cake shop. As Leon grows up in the 50s and 60s, his watches as his parents' lives are broken after his father volunteers to fight in the Korean War. Leon himself goes from working in the shop, sculpting sugar dolls for the tops of wedding cakes, to killing young men as a conscripted machine-gunner in Vietnam.
In the fall out from the war, Leon thinks he might be able to make a new life with his woman, make a baby, live by the sea in a small shack. But something watches from the cold shade of the teeming bush.
Set in eastern Australia with its dark trees and blinding light, where the land is old but its wounds are still wet, this beautifully realised debut tells a story of fathers and sons, their wars and the things they will never know about each other. It is about the things men cannot say out loud and the taut silence that fills up the empty space.

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2009
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780307378460
Characteristics: 296 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

parismorning Dec 01, 2013

was shortlisted for
the Impac Prize, the Orange Award for New Writers a
nd the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and awarded
the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 2011, she was nam
ed by the BBC as one of the twelve best new British
novelists and in 2013, she was named as one of Gran
ta's Best of Young British Novelists.

Jul 03, 2013

Set in Australia. What was it about again? Really enjoyed reading it. Fresh, different, but what the hell was it about and I just finished it a week or so ago...

May 27, 2013

Although this book is not badly written, it is very unsatisfying for the reader. The novel tells the parallel stories of a father and son. The father, himself the son of a refugee from WW II who volunteers to fight in the Korean War and is damaged by the experience, is conscripted to fight in Viet Nam which is an experience from which he only slowly recovers. The son is unhappy and neglected as a child and as an adult retreats to a shack in Eastern Australia to put his life back together. However, many of the events do not support the narrative and overall, the story is entirely predictable.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at RCPL

To Top