Shame and the Captives

A Novel

About The Book

“If the legendary Schindler’s List was not enough to showcase Thomas Keneally’s literary mastery, then [this novel] surely will” (New York Daily News) as the Booker Prize-winning author reimagines from all sides the drastic true events of the night more than one thousand Japanese POWs staged the largest and bloodiest prison escape of World War II.

Alice is living on her father-in-law’s farm on the edge of an Australian country town, while her husband is held prisoner in Europe. When Giancarlo, an Italian inmate at the prisoner-of-war camp down the road, is assigned to work on the farm, she hopes that being kind to him will somehow influence her husband’s treatment. What she doesn’t anticipate is how dramatically Giancarlo will change the way she understands both herself and the wider world.

What most challenges Alice and her fellow townspeople is the utter foreignness of the thousand-plus Japanese inmates and their deeply held code of honor, which the camp commanders fatally misread. Mortified by being taken alive in battle and preferring a violent death to the shame of living, the Japanese prisoners plan an outbreak with shattering and far-reaching consequences for all the citizens around them.

In a career spanning half a century, Thomas Keneally has proven brilliant at exploring ordinary lives caught up in extraordinary events. With this profoundly gripping and thought-provoking novel, inspired by a notorious incident in New South Wales in 1944, he once again shows why he is celebrated as a writer who “looks into the heart of the human condition with a piercing intelligence that few can match” (Sunday Telegraph).

About The Author

Photograph © Newspix via Getty Images

Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published thirty-three novels since, most recently Crimes of the Father, Napoleon’s Last Island, Shame and the Captives, and the New York Times bestselling The Daughters of Mars. His novels include Schindler’s List, which won the Booker Prize in 1982, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest, and Confederates, all of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written several works of nonfiction, including his boyhood memoir Homebush Boy, The Commonwealth of Thieves, and Searching for Schindler. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney, Australia.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (February 24, 2015)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476734668

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Raves and Reviews

"Keneally is especially good at rendering the small psychological adjustments made between people embarking on intimacy."

– New York Times Book Review

“If the legendary Schindler’s List was not enough to showcase Thomas Keneally’s literary mastery, then Shame and the Captives surely will….It is clear from the start how thorough are Keneally’s research and cultural understanding; and he showcases them with brilliant, masterful writing....[A]n example of fine writing that has the power to entice modern readers and those interested in the truthful reflection of the human spirit, no matter the place, culture or generation.”

– The New York Daily News

"[Keneally's] prose is stunning, his plot all too vivid, his characters haunting.”

– Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Once again, Keneally reaches back to the WWII era to stunningly dramatic effect...explores multiple and multifaceted themes of courage, loyalty, empathy, and cultural dissonance."

– Booklist

“Keneally shares his deeply believable and flawed characters' conflicting perspectives sensitively and with great empathy,expressing the full range of humanity in a few hundred pages. He does an extraordinary job of making all his characters compelling and sympathetic, with fully formed back stories, even those whose perspectives are likely to be the most "foreign" to the reader…. Keneally blends history, romance and wartime intrigue in a remarkable piece of historical fiction with a strong sense of place and time.”

– Kirkus (starred review)

"No one equals Keneally for documenting the actions of human beings caught up in war, some desperate to hold onto their humanity, others desperate to die."

– Publishers Weekly

PRAISE FOR THE DAUGHTERS OF MARS:

"[Keneally] gives vivid human faces to the victims and the perpetrators of war. He weaves his magic and the reader falls under his spell... Keneally negotiates the separate and intertwining narratives with his usual elegance and skill."

– The Guardian

"There is an intelligence and a mastery of conventional modes of narrative that must be acknowledged... Shame and the Captives entertains and informs."

– Sydney Morning Herald

"[Keneally] looks into the heart of the human condition with a piercing intelligence that few can match."

– Sunday Telegraph

"Keneally has a Tolstoy-like gift for getting into his characters’ heads, as well as for portraying great turns of history in scenes of everyday life."

– The Dallas Morning News

"Keneally's gift, and his blessing to the many hundreds of characters he has created, is always to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. Each of them rises out of and above their varying backgrounds: the class, religion, ambition that mark but do not define them . . . Yet another of Keneally's grand entertainments."

– The Australian

“Like the warriors of Homer’s Iliad, Keneally gives readers a sense of the vast and continuous casualties dealt by war and reminds us that each soldier was once a boy armed with little more than a pitchfork.”

– The Missourian

“A master storyteller."

– San Jose Mercury News

“Keneally shares his deeply believable and flawed characters' conflicting perspectives sensitively and with great empathy,expressing the full range of humanity in a few hundred pages. He does an extraordinary job of making all his characters compelling and sympathetic, with fully formed back stories, even those whose perspectives are likely to be the most "foreign" to the reader…. Keneally blends history, romance and wartime intrigue in a remarkable piece of historical fiction with a strong sense of place and time.”

– Kirkus (starred review)

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