“My Country, Right or Wrong” – the slogan that sits on the lintel above the gate to Buchenwald concentration camp in Remote Sympathy. But is it a call to blind patriotism? - the harbour for those ‘just following orders.’ Is it a question asked by the worried, those citizens making small ripples in the tide of acceptance and blind-eye-turning? Is it a gambler’s toss, wondering which way the dice of history will fall? Each is a possibility in this extraordinary novel of the potential for evil lurking within us. Lurking within our tendency towards being accepted, being comfortable, being safe, and towards our having the slightest suspicion that those experiencing deprivation must somehow deserve it. As the sign on the Buchenwald gate reads: “To Each His Due.”
When you lived in the city it was strange to think that underneath you, under the immense stretch of hard tar-seal and grey concrete, there lay dirt and rocks, vast networks of roots, indestructible creatures and ancient worms, and far below them plates that collided over oceans of magma.” Three damaged people stagger around an Auckland that is dark, wet, polluted, each haunted by a past tragedy and unable to find a way forward.