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January 2, 2011 / C.T. Henry

REVIEW: A Thousand Cuts (USA) / Rupture (UK) by Simon Lelic

Simon Lelic’s gripping debut novel isn’t your typical mystery or a thriller.  In fact, we are told exactly who started shooting during a school assembly, leaving five dead – the shooter was a teacher. What inspector Lucia May discovers about that fateful day is appalling, and in the wake of the tragedy, it’s clear that the shooter isn’t the only one responsible.

Alternating chapters from witness narratives and Lucia May’s own investigation, Lelic gradually reveals what really happened to precipitate the shooting.  The result of this back and forth style of storytelling is a provocative critique of the way we intimidate others for sport.  Without being pretentious, what comes across in the pages of A Thousand Cuts is stark:

“I would talk with the parents…I would talk to the school, and the people I spoke to, the teachers, the headmaster, they would nod and look concerned and tell me that boys brawl, Mrs. Abe, it is the way of things in this country.  This country.  Like it was their country and not my country, not my son’s country.  The way of things.  Like the way of things was fixed and decided and unchangeable.”

Lelic presents us with a narrative that is truly meaningful to both school children and adults.  Long after reading this captivating novel, questions will spring to mind: Should the school’s headmaster have acted to stop the behavior that led to the taking of lives?  Why do we tolerate the “boys will be boys” attitude?  What does it say about our society today when people don’t stand up to bullies?   Hopefully, A Thousand Cuts will have an impact and compel its readers to question what has become acceptable behavior. Ultimately it asks: Is inaction a crime?

Rating: A+

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2 Comments

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  1. Kara / Jan 5 2011 5:07 am

    I’m looking forward to reading this book and hopefully discussing it with others. Thanks for the recommendation. I just have one question. Why do the US and UK versions have different names, and do you think one or the other title better suits the book?

    • henryct / Jan 5 2011 10:29 am

      I prefer the title “Rupture”. It captures the book more than “A Thousand Cuts”. I don’t know why American publishers have to change the name. Maybe they don’t think the public is educated enough to understand what “Rupture” actually means?

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