Siblings Ismael, Rosie and Cristina are deaf, and so are many in their Maya village. The deaf and hearing alike communicate in sign language, forming a tightly-knit community with an unsophisticated, simple lifestyle. But when Ismael gets into a fight at the local fiesta and flees the village, leaving Rosie and Cristina to fend for themselves, the daily rhythms of village life are disrupted, and all that they trust in comes under threat. Ismael and His Sisters is a remarkable debut novel from the acclaimed author of Chattering. It conjures up a world set apart, made visceral through its concentrated language, where sign language bridges exterior and interior worlds and gives a physical shape to the way we experience the world. It explores the interplay between the powerful forces within us and the dark elemental forces beyond our control, exposing the 'bottomless, hostile ocean' in which we all flounder. This is an extraordinary novel about the power of familial bonds, the barriers we build out of language, the dark elemental forces that threaten to overwhelm us, and above all, what it is like to be human.
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