Ben Williamson has lost a daughter. While studying abroad in Madrid,
Michelle Williamson was caught in a bombing by Basque separatists, a bombing
that killed her and several members of the Guardia Civil at a post in a
park. For Ben, this act of violence has left only questions, and at a moment
of despair he decides to seek out the reasons for Michelle's death. As Ben
begins to learn about the endless tensions beneath the surface of Spanish
culture, he finds that he wants someone to answer for his loss.
Ben's other daughter, Annie, is also wrestling with the loss of her
sister. When she follows her father to Spain, she finds a changed man.
Haunting and beautiful, House of the Deaf is the story of one man's brush
with terrorism and his quest to find answers.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Studded with...subtle, psychological moments. Herrin, in his fifth novel, shares some of James Salter's gift for observationally acute understatement....[he] nails in a few sentences the complex chemistry between mothers and daughters, how a daughter is built to detect and destroy the hype in her mother's stories, even as the girl privately cheers the brio. And Herrin has a bit of J.M. Coetzee about him in his aptitude for the charged and acrid exchanges between women and men...[the story becomes] hypnotic, stripped-down like a fairy tale.
In this spare book, Herrin deftly tackles a topical subject at a geographical remove from American soil for a subtle, suspenseful treatment of a personal response to terrorism.
Midwest Book Review
An extraordinary novel. Lamar Herrin has crafted a quietly harrowing, memorable story ... the storyline is exciting and all characters believably human. The sights, scents, and essence of Spain become living entities throughout the book. But it's Herrin's gift of skillfully revealing each person's inner life and thoughts that makes House of the Deaf a standout. Highly recommended adult reading.
Few novels handle the death of a child well; most go for sensationalism or bathos. This quiet novel powerfully renders one father's search for understanding when his oldest daughter is blown apart by Basque bombs in Spain. After profound tension, the ending leaves one spent but satisfied.
Booklist - Steve Powers
This is a lovely, wrenching novel that will move even the most unemotional of readers.
Lamar Herrin has always written beautifully. Now, in a manner reminiscent of J. M. Coetzee, he looks at the effect of contemporary political violence on one particular family. House of the Deaf is a powerful, poetic, and suspenseful book.
Lamar Herrin redefines vengeance and innocence in House of the Deaf, a tale of political violence in which the life-blood of the spirit confronts the cold blood of the terrorist - a finely wrought novel of near-mystical dimension.
Irma Wolfson, The Reading Room Bookstore
I find myself completely engrossed by it. Herrin writes so compellingly that I had that wonderful, and rare, experience of being transported to the world of the main characters, Ben and Annie. My own real world fell away and I was truly IN the book. What I especially like is how delicately Herrin depicts the slightest changes in perceptions and feelings of his characters. While the book has its exotic locale, Spain, and the plot the elements of a political thriller, its real strength is in Herrin's portrayal of its complex characters. I hope the book gets the attention of all the independent book sellers. It certainly deserves to.
Who are the Basque separatists?
Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna (ETA) stands for Basque
Homeland and Freedom. The group seeks independence for seven regions in
northern Spain and South-West France that they claim as their own. The ETA
first appeared in the 1960s as a student resistance movement opposed to General
Franco's military dictatorship (Franco banned the Basque language, suppressed
their culture and had Basque intellectuals tortured for their beliefs).
Since Franco's death in 1975 Spain's Basque country now has more autonomy than
any other region in Spain, including its own parliament, police force, education
policies and ability to collect taxes, but hardline ETA members and supporters
remain determined to fight for full independence.
In recent years there has been increasingly less backing for ETA. Although
no-one can be sure of the numbers, in 2004 Spanish authorities estimated that there
could be as few as 30 fully paid up members. Many see the 1997
kidnapping of a local Basque councilor as the...
Written with the austere clarity that has made Coetzee the winner of
two Booker Prizes and the Nobel Prize, Disgrace explores the downfall of one man and dramatizes the plight of a
country caught in the chaotic aftermath of centuries of racial oppression.
Unafraid to show his traumatized characters' constant groping for emotional catharsis, Foer demonstrates once again that he is one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk sentimentalism in order to address great questions of truth, love and beauty.
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