Summary and book reviews of After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

by Evie Wyld

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2009, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2010, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Set in the haunting landscape of eastern Australia, this is a stunningly accomplished debut novel about the inescapable past: the ineffable ties of family, the wars fought by fathers and sons, and what goes unsaid.

After the departure of the woman he loves, Frank drives out to a shack by the ocean that he had last visited as a teenager. There, among the sugarcane and sand dunes, he struggles to rebuild his life.

Forty years earlier, Leon is growing up in Sydney, turning out treacle tarts at his parents' bakery and flirting with one of the local girls. But when he's drafted to serve in Vietnam, he finds himself suddenly confronting the same experiences that haunt his war-veteran father.

As these two stories weave around each other - each narrated in a voice as tender as it is fierce - we learn what binds Frank and Leon together, and what may end up keeping them apart.

Excerpt
After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

The sun turned the narrow dirt track to dust. It rose like an orange tide from the wheels of the truck and blew in through the window to settle in Frank Collard’s arm hair. He remembered the place feeling more tropical, the soil thicker and wetter. The sugar cane on either side of the track was thin and reedy, wild with a brown husk and sick-looking green tops. The same old cane that hadn’t been harvested in twenty years swayed like a green sea. Blue gums and box trees hepped out of it, not bothered with the dieback. Once it would all have been hardwood. In the time his grandparents had lived out here, just the two of them, before the new highway, maybe then this place was a shack in the woods.

The clearing was smaller than he remembered, like the cane had slunk closer to the pale wooden box hut. The banana tree stooped low over a corrugated roof. He turned off the engine and sagged in his seat for a moment taking it in. There was...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About This Book
After the Fire, a Still Small Voice illuminates the ties that bind men together and the wars, both personal and national, that drive them apart. From Canberra to the small beach town of Mulaburry comes Frank Collard, trying to put behind him painful memories–including the recent and turbulent departure of the woman he loves. Fifty years back, Leon Collard lives a quiet life in Sydney with his immigrant parents, who run a local bakery. But when Leon’s father enlists to fight in the Korean War and returns a broken man, the family crumbles. Years later, Leon runs into his generation’s war and, devastatingly, becomes a conscripted soldier in Vietnam.

As these two story lines unfold, we learn how Frank’...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Evie Wyld’s impressive first novel employs the harsh and often dangerous Australian environment as a setting for the loneliness and devastation that can ruin a man’s life after he returns from war... When I finished the story I was left with scenes of jungles, death, loss and sorrow, but also vivid vignettes of young men discovering their sexuality, forming connections with friends, and finding peace of mind through creativity.   (Reviewed by Judy Krueger).

Full Review Members Only (516 words).

Media Reviews

The New Yorker

Wyld has a feel both for beauty and for the ugliness of inherited pain. The mood is creepy—strange creatures in the sugar cane, grieving neighbors, a missing local girl—and the sentiment is plain: 'Sometimes people aren't all right and that's just how it is.'

Vogue

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice has the kind of dark shimmer that mesmerizes as it disturbs . . . [The characters'] converging stories and silent rage form an eerie chiaroscuro of blinding sunlight and tenebrous bush, rendered in language so naturalistic and sensual it seems more felt than read

Booklist

Ravishingly atmospheric and wisely compassionate ...There's no doubt that Wyld is a writer of immense abilities and depth.

Library Journal

With mental tension, war, missing children, and the daily struggles encountered in the Australian bush, there is plenty to keep the reader engrossed. A definite page-turner that will appeal to those seeking a good escapist read.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At times startling, Wyl's book is ruminative and dramatic, with deep reserves of empathy colored by masculine rage and repression."

The Times (UK)

A superb first novel.

The Daily Mail (UK)

Just sometimes, a book is so complete, so compelling and potent, that you are fearful of breaking its hold. This is one . . . With awesome skill and whiplash wit, Evie Wyld knits together past and present, with tension building all the time. In Peter Carey and Tim Winton, Australia has produced two of the finest storytellers working today. On this evidence, Wyld can match them both.

The Guardian (UK)

A terrifically self-assured debut . . . It's a cauterising, cleansing tale, told with muscular writing.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

A stunning debut
“Eucalyptus blanketed the room. He had the feeling that the trees were peering in through the windows, that they had uprooted and crept over to take a peek. The leaves of the banana tree on the roof were a gentle tap tap tap let me in” After the ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Australia's role in the Korean and Vietnam Wars
When war broke out in Korea in June 1950, the United Nations Security Council asked all of its members to assist in repelling the North Korean invasion into South Korea. North Korea was under the influence of the Soviet Union and later in the war Communist China entered the fray as well. Fifteen nations sent contingents to defend South Korea, with the United States being the largest.

Australia committed a squadron of Air Force personnel, equipment, and a battalion from the Royal Australian Regiment. The country's security was felt to be at risk from Communist aggression and the Prime Minister was eager to show its full support of the United Nations. More particularly he wanted to secure...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, try these:

  • The Paperbark Shoe jacket

    The Paperbark Shoe

    by Goldie Goldbloom

    Published 2011

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Set in 1940s Australia, The Paperbark Shoe is a remarkable novel about the far-reaching repercussions of war, the subtle violence of displacement, and what it means to live as a captive - in enemy country, and in one's own skin.

  • The Surrendered jacket

    The Surrendered

    by Chang-rae Lee

    Published 2011

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A stunning story about how love and war inalterably change the lives of those they touch, The Surrendered is elegant, suspenseful, and unforgettable: a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy and salvation.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Raw, emotionally intelligent and unflinchingly honest--a triumph.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.