May 2017

Review by Dianne

For the May meeting, we read The House of the Deaf Man by Peter Kristufek, a Slovakian writer and apparently one of the rising stars of the Slovakian literary scene. In a country of only 5.5 million, most local authors are considered successful if they sell 500-1000 books. The House of the Deaf Man sold over 2500 in its first print, which is considered something of a runaway success. Unfortunately for local authors, sales tend to be dominated by translations of English-language best-sellers, such as Dan Brown and Jodi Picoult, who can sell in the tens of thousands. However, since the 1989 Velvet Revolution, there has developed a strong current of self-parody and introspection in Slovakian literature and ‘House of the Deaf Man’ falls very much into this genre.

The story is told through the voice of Adam Trnovsky, a child at the start of the book in 1938 and focuses very much on his father, a well-respected GP, whose deafness, at first metaphorical and then physical colours their relationship. Adam returns home after his father’s death to clear out the former family home, but of course, everything is touched with memories, good and bad. His father has turned a deaf ear to the huge social and political upheavals of his life and tried to portray the image of a happy and contented man – the truth, though, it very different. Adam describes this ‘deafness’ as almost a national trait – if you pretend that something isn’t happening, you don’t have to do anything about it.

The plot is quite sparse, with lots of unresolved questions (Did his father really turn his uncle over to the Nazis? Who belongs to the bones that Adam found in the backyard and how did they get there?). It’s told almost as a series of (sometimes unrelated) anecdotes, a bit like listening to an older relative recount family stories after dinner. Some parts are snortingly funny and others quite sad and introspective, but all are interesting and give us an insight into a country and a view of history that we’ve not come across before. One of the dangers of recounting a story that is within the living memory of much of the population is that the author needs to be either very precise or very imprecise. Kristufek has followed the imprecise path, which allows a huge amount of leeway in dates, experiences and perceptions. Enjoyable but meandering and quite waffly, we decided that this book (at 650 pages) could have done with some judicious editing and was a story that readers could dip in and out of and come back to without too much loss of continuity.

Find a complete review of The House Of The Deaf man here.

Ratings: Claudia DNR, Denise 2.5, Di 2.5, Janet 2.5, Judith 2.5, Kim DNR, Margie 3, Penny 3 and Viv 2.5.

Next month we get together on the  8/05/17 at 6:30pm at Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) to discuss Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujins. This continues our year of European novels in translation. Hope to see you there and Happy Reading!

 

About Us

We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.

Preece HouseWe meet at the 1948 heritage Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) on the second Monday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. excluding Public Holidays. A small contribution is required towards the rent of the room, but not if you are a first timer. The amount depends on the number of people attending.
One book title is chosen each month and we all read that book. There is a ‘host’ who introduces and co-ordinates the discussion. The role of host is rotated around the group so that each member has the opportunity to nominate their book (it could also be an author, theme or genre). The host also acts as chairperson for that meeting.
Although we are not a social club (we are readers), we occasionally attend literary events, relevant movies or plays here at the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay. We conform to basic meeting practices and everyone has an equal opportunity to express their opinion. Everyone’s interpretation is valid, as long as it’s expressed respectfully.
We welcome any new members who share our aims and are happy to contribute to our group. Newcomers are not required to have read the book to attend the first meeting and no contribution is required from them.
Feel free to have a look at our Booklist and Newsletters in the sidebar. If you are reading this blog in a mobile device, switch to desktop view.

CONTACT DETAILS

We meet from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on the 2nd Monday of every month at the heritage listed PreeceC HOUSE located on Bischoff Park, Nerang Street (next corner White St), Nerang next door to shops at 54 Nerang Street. Please contact us for info on meetings that fall on Public Holidays.
For more information use the contact form.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save