Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Last Time We Spoke by Fiona Sussman

I thoroughly enjoyed Fiona Sussman's debut novel Shifting Colours, about domestic service in South Africa during the apartheid years; so I was eager to read her latest novel The Last Time We Spoke.
Fiona Sussman is a family doctor and writer, formerly from South Africa, who now lives in New Zealand.

The Last Time We Spoke is about the aftermath of a violent home invasion; and is set in New Zealand.
Two babies are born; Jack into a loving comfortably-off farming family; Ben into an unstable gang environment. Years later they meet when Ben and his friend attempt to burgle Jack's family home as part of a gang initiation.

The story then follows the life of Jack's mother Carla, as she struggles to deal with on-going trauma following the incident; as well as Ben's life in prison.
Parts of this novel are reminiscent of Alan Duff's Once were Warriors and One Night out Stealing;
Sussman draws her charactors very well and and shows perhaps a different perspective as an immigrant to New Zealand.  I wasn't sure about the Maori God narrative and historical context at the end of some chapters, and felt this could have been integrated into the novel in a different way.

An interesting read.

Reviewed by Katrina

Catalogue link:  The Last Time We Spoke

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