Monday, November 26, 2007

News from Down Under: Richard Flanagan

There was a strange sense that Australia, which had seemed so often to sleepwalk, mesmerised, through the past 11 years, had suddenly woken up. But where it might go and what it might do and be, no one any longer knew.
....described by a fellow Labor MP as "about as interesting as carpet".
He was declared a "heartless snake".....
...a company intending to build one of the world's biggest pulp mills in Tasmania, which will burn half-a-million tonnes of native forest a year in the monstrosity of its electricity generator alone.,,2217016,00.html

Richard Flanagan


Descended from Irish convicts transported to Van Diemens Land (later renamed Tasmania) during the Great Famine, Richard Flanagan was born in his native island in 1961, the fifth of six children. He spent his childhood in the mining town of Rosebery and left school at sixteen to work as a bush laborer. He later attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. His first novel is the much celebrated DEATH OF A RIVER GUIDE, which won major Australian literary prizes including the 1996 National Fiction Award and was described by the Times Literary Supplement as "one of the most auspicious debuts in Australian writing." His second novel, THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING, was similarly critically acclaimed and has sold over 150,000 copies in Australia, an unprecedented figure there for a literary novel. It won the Australian Booksellers Book of the Year Award and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction. Flanagan’s first two novels, declared Kirkus Reviews, “rank with the finest fiction out of Australia since the heyday of Patrick White.” GOULD’S BOOK OF FISH, his third novel, won Best Book for the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize in the South East Asia & South Pacific Region. In addition to Australia and the USA, his novels are being published in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Germany, Holland, and France. He directed an acclaimed feature film based on THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING, which had its world premiere in competition at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear for best film. He lives in Tasmania with his wife and three children.

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My responses (to the novel) are largely from Tasmanian people, this is where I live. I think Tasmanians like it because it's one of the first times they've seen their own world - somebody has attempted to depict their world with honesty and love. They (Tasmanians) are a much-maligned people who have been misrepresented by others for a long, long time. And because there wasn't an attempt to engage with their world as it was, and write about it with love.
'There are a series of responses to Tasmania; one is to present it as a Gothic horror land, and the other is to present it as this Utopia. But nobody wants to look at truths that might be more complex. And everybody's after a little box to put the place into, rather than to accept that it's a large and moving mystery. And they ought to try to come to terms with some of the tensions that make that mystery, to me, so interesting. I personally think it's a terrific place for a writer - there's an enormous well of subconscious experience that's accumulated over centuries.
'I think a lot of the problem with Australian writing at the moment is people simply try to tap into their own talent, and that's a frail and small world to draw upon and you've got to find something more and other than yourself to be writing about. I think the Tasmanian experience is a particularly powerful and rich one on which to draw. The great problem with a lot of Australian writing, I think, is that it's constantly in flight from the truths of this place rather than engaging with it.'

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

A sweeping novel of world war, migration, and the search for new beginnings in a new land, The Sound of One Hand Clapping was both critically acclaimed and a best-seller in Australia. It is a virtuoso performance from an Australian who is emerging as one of our most talented new storytellers.It was 1954, in a construction camp for a hydroelectric dam in the remote Tasmanian highlands, where Bojan Buloh had brought his family to start a new life away from Slovenia, the privations of war, and refugee settlements. One night, Bojan's wife walked off into a blizzard, never to return -- leaving Bojan to drink too much to quiet his ghosts, and to care for his three-year-old daughter Sonja alone. Thirty-five years later, Sonja returns to Tasmania and a father haunted by memories of the European war and other, more recent horrors. As the shadows of the past begin to intrude ever more forcefully into the present, Sonja's empty life and her father's living death are to change forever. The Sound of One Hand Clapping is about the barbarism of an old world left behind, about the harshness of a new country, and the destiny of those in a land beyond hope who seek to redeem themselves through love.

Les Australiens ont trouvé un mot pour cela : le "me too-ism", la technique du "moi aussi".,1-0@2-3216,36-982506@51-981392,0.html

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