I was looking forward to this read. The winner of two Australian literary awards, and shortlisted for another five, I expected I’d have nice things to say. But I don’t. Noah Glass tries too hard to be intelligent, and falls for cliches, stereotypes, and convenience.
I had to keep checking it was written by a female author. Descriptions of the female characters sounded awkwardly like how some male authors write female characters that the internet loves to mock. Then, there was the brother-sister relationship that sounded like they were lovers, and what on earth was going on with the comparison between the daughter and the girlfriend?
There are so many parallels between the father and son it feels forced. It’s one thing to write echoes of the father in the son but it’s like a mirror, which feels lazy and lacking in creativity. Another thing that feels lazy is the description of a flight between Italy and Japan. It’s as though the writer has never been on a long-haul flight, did no research about them, and wrote about what she thought would happen – or hoped would happen because it was convenient for the story.
Another “convenience” that is particularly bothering is the characters with disabilities seem to exist purely to make the protagonists look good. In particular, Martin is presented as the “saviour” of his Deaf daughter, who is also positioned as an idiot savant for her awareness of her surrounds, “children inflated such moments…they know their true importance”.
Obviously, there are people out there who think this book is outstanding but I am not one of them. Too much attention has been on appealing to the intelligentsia and not enough on developing characters and plot.