A History of Silence: A Memoir

A History of Silence: A Memoir

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by Lloyd Jones
     
 

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From New Zealand's greatest living writer, A History of Silence is a moving and devastating memoir unlike any you have ever read before.

A History of Silence is a book about a country and a broken landscape. It's about the devastation in Christchurch, after the 2011 earthquake. It's about how easily we erase stories we find inconvenient. It's

Overview

From New Zealand's greatest living writer, A History of Silence is a moving and devastating memoir unlike any you have ever read before.

A History of Silence is a book about a country and a broken landscape. It's about the devastation in Christchurch, after the 2011 earthquake. It's about how easily we erase stories we find inconvenient. It's about the fault lines which that cataclysmic event opened up in Lloyd Jones' understanding of his own family history.

In A History of Silence Jones embarks on a quest for the truth about his family. What happened? Why do there seem to be so few stories? Why are there so few mementos? The answers he finds are completely unexpected and change everything.

Lloyd Jones was born in New Zealand in 1955. His best-known novel is Mister Pip, which won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the 2008 Kiriyama Prize Fiction Category, the 2008 Montana Award for Readers Choice, the Montana Fiction Award and the Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and has been made into a major feature film, directed by Andrew Adamson. His other books include Hand Me Down World, The Book of Fame, Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance and Biografi. He has also published a collection of short stories, The Man in the Shed. Lloyd Jones lives in Wellington.

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'Lloyd Jones is a master storyteller.' Weekend Australian

'Jones is a daring writer who can be relied on to ignore expectation, and is becoming one of the most interesting, honest and thought-provoking novelists working today.' Guardian

'It would be difficult to think of another novelist as original or fearless as...Lloyd Jones.' Monthly

'Poetically observed detail and an affecting evocation of the past will reward readers interested in the way our history (even, or especially, that which we don't know about) can shape us.' Bookseller and Publisher

'A History of Silence quickly establishes itself as a captivating memoir...Jones has written a brave and remarkable tribute to his forbears.' Readings Monthly

'Memoir shrinks themes and holds them close to the bone. It brings out the poet in Jones as he scours family letters and bureaucratic records in New Zealand and Wales for clues. It's a meandering investigation...but with Jones the meandering is a pleasurable experience, gently paced and studded with lovely phrasing.' Weekend Australian

'The stories Jones uncovers speak of loss, displacement, unbearable sadness, but also courage.' Canberra Times

'Honest and thought-provoking.' Sydney Morning Herald/Saturday Age

'Jones skilfully gives the reader the point of view of the growing child making the best of things in a charmless Wellington suburb, but as the child becomes the man...the book gathers an urgency and poignancy that at times becomes as painful as pulling flesh across barbed wire, and we become aware the lineaments of grand tragedy can be found in the back streets of Lower Hutt.' Otago Daily Times

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 05/01/2014
New Zealand-born Jones is best known for his novel Mister Pip (short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, made into a film starring Hugh Laurie in 2012). The author's first memoir is a meditation on the loneliness and willful forgetting of a family's history, inspired by the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. The city was built on swamplands, but its origins had long been forgotten and the foundations considered solid. But when the earth shook, the soil turned to water. Jones was inspired to examine his own underpinnings and found much of his family mythology was oversimplified or patently false. Taking what facts he could find, Jones reconstructs a story of his ancestry. The resulting account is complex, written in spare, evocative prose, combining time lines and verb tenses and reading more as poetry than as linear narrative. The sense of the world's largeness to a child is captured effectively, as are Jones's adult observations. VERDICT Those who enjoy quality literature should savor this deeply moving and beautifully communicated memoir. Readers who prefer narratives in neat packages with definitive answers and resolutions will be less stirred.—Audrey Snowden, Orrington P.L., ME

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781922148360
Publisher:
The Text Publishing Company
Publication date:
08/21/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Lloyd Jones was born in New Zealand in 1955. His best-known novel is Mister Pip, which won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the 2008 Kiriyama Prize Fiction Category, the 2008 Montana Award for Readers Choice, the Montana Fiction Award and the Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and has been made into a major feature film, directed by Andrew Adamson (Shrek and Narnia). His other books include Hand Me Down World, The Book of Fame—which won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize—Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance and Biografi. He has also published a collection of short stories, The Man in the Shed. Lloyd Jones lives in Wellington. 

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A History of Silence 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“There might have been more to tell if more had been shared, if questions had been asked, if information had been offered and passed along at the moment it lit up in memory. But the family trait was silence. Great wreaths of it were wound around our lives and stuffed in the windows and hallway of our parents’ house, and that is what was absorbed, that and, speaking for myself, a finely tuned ability to gauge the air in the room which at any moment might explode with the slam of a door” A History of Silence is a memoir by New Zealand author, Lloyd Jones. Asked by a BBC radio producer to comment on the Christchurch earthquake of February, 2011, Jones travels there from his home in an old Auckland shoe factory to observe, perhaps to help? What he sees sets off a need inside him to discover the true history of his family, of which little has ever been revealed. Jones turns his wonderful talent for descriptive prose to this memoir of his forebears: “I have never felt as lightly tethered to the earth as when the nor-wester is at full bombastic strength. Even my face feels rearranged – I can feel the nose bone sticking up and the wrong patch of skin where the forehead normally sits. Eyelids have to be prised open. The nose drips” His research takes him to Pembroke Dock in search of a paternal grandfather allegedly “lost at sea”, but his narrative also tends to go off on loosely-related tangents, like relating a visit to Russia to meet his wife’s ancestors. In his search, he regularly draws parallels with both the earthquake and, later, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Thus it takes a while to reach the most interesting part: the court transcript of his maternal grandmother’s divorce. “Of course the earthquake struck when and where it did, and to the naked eye of course the pattern of bad luck would seem random, unless of course you knew about the old city map indicating ancient subterranean waterways, and of course I would find myself born into a world of silence because that is precisely what the shamed bestows upon the progeny – a wilful forgetting”