Happy Friday! Today’s pick is After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by author Evie Wyld. I love this old paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. One of Granta‘s New Voices of 2008, debut novelist Wyld chronicles the stories of two Australian men and the shards of trauma that have made up both lives. Frank and Leon live parallel lives: the narratives begin with young Leon’s father heading to the Korean War, and, 40 years later, with an adult Frank holing up in a decrepit beachfront shack. Leon’s father returns from Korea badly damaged, having been in a prison camp, and soon runs away, with Leon’s mother giving chase. Later Leon is drafted and faces in Vietnam horrors similar to those that traumatized his father. Meanwhile, in the present day, Frank is starting over after his girlfriend leaves him. Making do in the family shack, he befriends his neighbors and threads together a passable existence in spite of remembered tragedies, anger at his shadowy father and a spate of local children gone missing. The two narrative threads stay separate until the final pages, and, refreshingly, their connection isn’t overplayed. At times startling, Wyld’s book is ruminative and dramatic, with deep reserves of empathy colored by masculine rage and repression.
The book is Wyld’s debut and only novel, published in 2009, so she hasn’t written another since. That’s not from a lack of talent. The Telegraph named her one of Britain’s top 20 novelists under the age of 40, calling After the Fire “a haunting first novel set on the Australian East coat.”