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Most of us have a plan. Somewhere to go if something awful happens. Pilgrim Jones doesn’t. She looks up at a departures board and takes the first flight.

She alights on the edge of Africa. Over confessions and strong gin, she’s lured into a world of mercenaries and philanthropists, delusional heroes and witchdoctors in polyester suits. But what about the beating absence, the thing she’s done?

SHAME is a novel about a world out of time, about magic and chance, Europe and Africa, learning to live and living to learn. It will transport you from diplomatic dinners to a land where fireflies light the sky, and a desolate, magical coastline where anything – anything – might happen.

SHAME will change you.

Read by Penelope Rawlins

(p) 2015 Orion Publishing Group

Reviews

'Melanie Finn's second novel lives up to the promise of her first. Shame pulls off the feat of being both chilling and redemptive. She explores vast themes - the solitude of bereavement, the eternal nature of maternal love, the irony of fate - with a light, deft touch'
Michela Wrong, author of It's Our Turn to Eat and Borderlines
One of TATLER'S SIZZLING SUMMER READS 'A thought-provoking novel . . . deftly set in a world of mercenaries, philanthropists and witch doctors in polyester suits, the book asks how one atones for atrocity'
TATLER
'[An] intriguing story... The novel details a woman's exile to Tan­zania, where she hopes to find a new life away from Switzerland, her husband's infidelity and, most tragically of all, a car accident that leaves her responsible for the death of three children. In its short, single-scene chapters, and in the toggling between flashbacks to the woman's early life and the current African moment, the influence of another form is obvious: cinema... Compelling.'
The Australian
'There's an eerie, existential quality about Melanie Finn's new novel, Shame. What tiny, mundane choices determine our fate?... A paean by an Old Africa Hand to a magical continent of silent forests, slow, dark rivers, wild green mangroves; a world populated by child ghosts, haunted whites and AK-47-toting rebels. It is through this heart of darkness, a landscape rich in possibilities, that Pilgrim stumbles towards the light.'
New Zealand Herald
'This is one of those novels that can make others feel uniform, of a kind... The exceptionally vivid physical setting and sense of Africa's deprivation and abundance is echoed in Pilgrim Jones's psychological journey. At times I was caught between feeling I could hardly bear to read on whilst at the same time being unable to put the book down. Uniquely raw and wrenching, as traumatic as it is beautiful, this is a novel of emotional depth and wisdom in which the quality of the prose lights up even the darkest moments.'
Literary Sofa
PICK OF THE WEEK 'Full of empathy and intelligence, this novel is a study of the shame, guilt and despair that can result from nothing more than desperately bad luck. With no shadow of didacticism or propaganda, it explores the nuances of our moral choices in a postcolonial context. The ending is startlingly optimistic and very moving.'
Sydney Morning Herald
'Arresting - Finn conjures up Africa perfectly'
Margaret Forster, author of My Life in Houses
'A brilliantly written account of a soul in torment and the way she is pursued by her own fate. Finn evokes the darkness and light of Africa with the same sureness that she calls forth the brightness and shadow of the human heart'
Tim Lott, author of The Scent of Dried Roses
'Haunting and atmospheric - I was completely hooked'
Leila Aboulela, author of The Translator
So powerful, brutal and haunting. There are scenes that will just stay in the memory, the birth scene in particular was just incredible. Absolutely brilliant
Benjamin Judge, Not the Booker Prize Judge 2015
'Shame, a second novel by Melanie Finn, deserved more recognition than it received. Her Africa is one I recognise, neither sentimental nor sensationalised. Finn has a light, deft touch as a writer, but the images she conjures up are so subversively creepy they haunt you for days'
Spectator Best Books of the Year
I rarely get as invested in the outcome of a novel as I did reading Shame . . . These characters could be us
Jill Alexander Essbaum, author of Hausfrau
'This unsparing tale captivates and intrigues in equal measure. Exploring guilt, despair and atonement, its vivid prose draws the reader into a powerful web of tragedy.'
THE LADY
AN EDITOR'S CHOICE PICK '[A] richly textured, intricately plotted novel . . . Finn's prose is cool and precise'
New York Times Book Review
Finn is a remarkably confident and supple storyteller . . . [her] novel deserves major attention
John Williams, New York Times