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Will keeping the Japanese, Korean and Italian POWs of the Second World War alive in Australia keep Australian POWs alive and well wherever they are?

Will keeping the Japanese, Korean and Italian POWs of the Second World War alive in Australia keep Australian POWs alive and well wherever they are?

In the spirit of The Daughters of Mars, Tom Keneally’s new novel brilliantly explores the intimacies of ordinary lives being played out against momentous world events.

In Gawell, New South Wales, a prisoner-of-war camp to house European, Korean and Japanese captives is built close to a farming community. Alice is a young woman living a dull life with her father-in-law on his farm while her new husband first fights, then is taken prisoner, in Greece. When Giancarlo, an Italian POW and anarchist from Gawell’s camp, is assigned to work on their farm, Alice’s view of the world and her self-knowledge are dramatically expanded.

But what most challenges Alice and the town is the foreignness of the Japanese compound and its culture, entirely perplexing to the inmates’ captors. Driven by a desperate need to validate the funerals already held for them in Japan, the prisoners vote to take part in an outbreak, and the bloodshed and chaos this precipitates shatter the certainties and safeties of all who inhabit the region.

Reviews

Then he turns, with a virtuosity he has rarely matched, to giving us - through select, concentrated detail - a sense of the wider lives of the participants in this story, for all that our acquaintance with them is partial. 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. The title of the novel, Shame and the Captives, has a deliberate ambiguity and a measure of awkwardness that makes us pause to consider the moral complexity of yet another of Keneally's grand entertainments.

Peter Pierce, The Australian

I’ve read only a dozen or so of the 30 or more novels Keneally has written. This is at least as good as any of them, and better, I should say, than Schindler’s Ark. he narrative is gripping, slow-moving but absorbing for the first half and more of the novel, then fast-moving, exciting and appalling. The account of the break-out is horrifying, and one can’t think it could have been better done. Keneally is not a novelist who stints on action. Here he has made a remarkable, and largely successful attempt to get into the minds of people very different from himself, surely one of the marks of the true novelist. Tengan and his colleagues might, in the hands of a lesser novelist, have seemed absurd in their obsession with shame and their cult of death: Keneally’s imaginative understanding of them makes Tengan strangely sympathetic. This is a remarkable achievement.

Allan Massie, The Scotsman

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. Shame and the Captives is an 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.

Nina Lin, New York Daily News

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780857981004

    November 3, 2014

    Vintage Australia

    400 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9780857980984

    November 1, 2013

    Knopf Australia

    400 pages

    RRP $45.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Trade Paperback

    9780857980991

    November 1, 2013

    Vintage Australia

    400 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9780857981011

    November 1, 2013

    RHA eBooks Adult

    400 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • iBooks
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Tom Keneally

The Daughters Of Mars
The Unmourned
The Soldier's Curse
Crimes of the Father
Napoleon's Last Island
The Place at Whitton
A Country Too Far: Teacher's Edition
The Great Australian Writers' Collection 2013
A Country Too Far
Bring Larks and Heroes:Text Classics
Three Famines
The People's Train
Searching For Schindler
Three Cheers For The Paraclete
The Widow And Her Hero
The Commonwealth Of Thieves
Roos In Shoes
The Tyrant's Novel
An Angel In Australia
American Scoundrel
Bettany's Book
The Great Shame
Jacko