The remarkable new novel from one of Australia’s finest writers.
From the scars of the civil rights struggle in the United States to the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau, there are even more stories than there are people passing each other every day on the crowded streets of any major city. Only some of these stories survive to become history.
Adam Zignelik, an almost 40-year-old untenured academic historian at New York's Columbia University, is the son of a prominent American civil rights lawyer and an Australian mother. One of his late father's closest friends had been the African American civil rights activist, William McCray. Since the death of Adam's parents it is the McCray family - William, his son Charles (Chair of History at Columbia) and Charles' wife - that has become Adam's adopted family.
With Adam's career and his relationship with his long-time girlfriend in crisis, he gets a suggestion for a promising research topic from William McCray, who is a World War II veteran, that just might save him professionally and even personally.
Entirely fortuitously, Charles McCray's wife's cousin, Lamont, recently released from prison and working as a hospital janitor, strikes up an unlikely friendship with a patient, an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor and former member of the Sonderkommando (those prisoners forced to work in the gas chambers and crematoria of the Nazi extermination camps).
Two very different paths - Adam's and Lamont's - lead to one greater story as The Street Sweeper, in dealing with memory, racism, genocide and the human capacity for guilt, resilience, astonishing heroism and unexpected kindness, spans the 20th Century to the present and the globe from New York to Melbourne, Chicago, Warsaw, Berlin and Auschwitz.
Praise for Elliot Perlman:
‘Perlman has a rare gift for keeping the pages turning while never giving up on his vision of an encompassing and incisive social satire... the Aussie equivalent of the Franzens, Roths, and, yes, Austens of the world’ -- ELLE
‘Perlman’s power is in conveying the strife between personality and character in each of his protagonists. His prose, like his story itself, is vivid, humane, and finally optimistic in a manner that strengthens the reader’s perceptiveness’ -- HAROLD BLOOM
‘Perlman writes with such convincing simplicity - his sentences read like whiskey-fueled confessions - that you can’t help but imagine being locked in a room with his characters, devising a plan to palliate their woes’ -- ESQUIRE
About the Author
Elliot Perlman is the author of the award-winning novel THREE DOLLARS (Victoria’s favourite book, as voted by Victorians, and which was also a feature film starring David Wenham and Sarah Wynter), THE REASONS I WON’T BE COMING (a collection of award-winning stories), and the novel SEVEN TYPES OF AMBIGUITY. He is published in 20 countries, to glowing reviews. All of his books have won awards here and overseas, and all three of his books have been bestsellers in Australia and internationally. He is hailed as the ‘Zola of Australia’ in France. He lives in Melbourne.
"An expertly told novel of life in immigrant America--and of the terrible events left behind in the old country." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Brilliantly makes personal both the Holocaust and the civil rights movement.... A moving and literate page-turner." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Perlman's compulsively readable wrestle-with-evil saga is intimate and monumental, wrenching and cathartic." --Booklist (starred review)"In the best kind of books, there is always that moment when the words on the page swallow the world outside -- subway stations fly by, errands go un-run, rational bedtimes are abandoned -- and the only goal is to gobble up the next paragraph, and the next, and the next.... [The Street Sweeper is] a towering achievement: a strikingly modern literary novel that brings the ugliest moments of 20th-century history to life, and finds real beauty there." --"Entertainment Weekly""A sprawling work, generous in its spirit and in breadth of imagination, unabashed in its liberal humanism." --"The Age""A rich, engaging story of New York. [Perlman is] an author of rare erudition and compassion. The Street Sweeper is his boldest work yet and, quite probably, the one that will win him a greater following." --"The Washington Post"
Number Of Pages: 576
Published: 3rd October 2011
Publisher: Random House Australia
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.9 x 4.4
Weight (kg): 0.66