The Rowing Lesson

The Rowing Lesson

Pregnant with her first child, Betsy Klein is summoned from her home in the United States to her father's hospital bed in South Africa. Harold Klein is sensual, irascible, a passionately committed doctor, and a complex husband and father. As Betsy sits and waits for him to stir from his coma, she is compelled to imagine his life.
Fatherless and skinny, Harold Klein had to struggle to assert himself in his family, and, later, to become a doctor and to win the respect of his Boer patients. We first meet him as a young man on a formative, sexually charged excursion with his friends on the Touw, a river to which he often returns. That is where he later teaches his little daughter to row, and finally, where he makes his last metaphoric passage.
The Rowing Lesson is an utterly convincing and vivid portrait of a consciousness and a life, shot through with a daughter's fierce empathy and exasperation. By the heartbreaking end of the novel, it seems inconceivable that we will not meet Harold Klein directly, that he will never wake up, so powerfully has he been brought to life.

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Anne Landsman accepting the Sunday Times Fiction award for The Rowing Lesson

Anne Landsman reading from The Rowing Lesson

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Red Magazine
"The Moment My Life Changed"
February 2008
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"Three to Read" The Rowing Lesson
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FT Magazine
"Poetry in Motion"
Meticulous language defines this understated novel
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NY Times
"Editor's Choice"
The protagonist of this viscerally appealing novel...
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NY Times
"The Dutiful Daughter"
At her father's deathbed, a woman imagines her way into his experience.
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"Sacred Text"
A novelist transports us again—with a story of struggle, survival and a sense of our shared past.
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L.A. Times
The unfolding of time and relationships in death.
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"A Quartet of Pure Rapture"
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Literary Criticism

David Medalie
"The Uses of Nostalgia". English Studies in Africa, Volume 53, Number 1, May 2010, 35-44.
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