Tag: Miles Franklin Literary Award

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Posted January 24, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 22 Comments

All the Birds, Singing by Evie WyldTitle: All the Birds, Singing (Goodreads)
Author: Evie Wyld
Published: Random House, 2013
Pages: 240
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Jake Whyte lives on an old farm on a small British island, tucked away from the world with her disobedient collie named Dog. However when her flock of sheep start dying from mysterious and horrific circumstances, Jake has to engage with the rest of the island in order to find out what is happening. All the Birds, Singing is about running and hiding from the past and dealing with isolation and loneliness.

The novel is told in alternating perspectives from the protagonist. One follows everything that happens after finding one of her sheep dead from mysterious circumstances. The other works backwards from that point and explores Jake’s past and why she is running away from it. It is a unique way to tell the story but it also serves as a metaphor for the way Jack is trying to distance herself from her past. However, while reading the novel, she also realise how much the past effects and stays with her, no matter how hard she tries to escape it.

It feels like Evie Wyld has an interest in the outsider and exploring a disconnection from a place/society. There is a struggle between Jake’s need to make a connection with her need to isolate herself from the world; this is what really captivated me about this book. Wyld was born in Australia and now lives in England and I am curious if this theme is something she has struggled with herself. I have heard her first novel After the Fire, A Still Small Voice deals with similar themes but I don’t think I will know for sure until her planned graphic memoir is released later this year.

All the Birds, Singing is a beautifully lyrical and atmospheric novel that deals with some pretty heavy themes. I put this novel off for so long, mainly because it won the Miles Franklin literary award and it was getting far too much attention. However it was picked for my book club in the middle of 2014 but because I was in America while this was happening I missed the chance to read and discuss the novel. I finally decided to pick up the book and I was blown away, so much so that I am giving it away (open internationally) as part of the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop.

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The Hanging Garden and Unfinished Novels

Posted May 28, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 0 Comments

The Hanging Garden and Unfinished NovelsTitle: The Hanging Garden (Goodreads)
Author: Patrick White
Published: Knopf Doubleday, Random House, 2012
Pages: 224
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

During my last book club gathering, we were talking about Patrick White’s unfinished novel; The Hanging Garden and this lead into a discussion of books being published after the author dies which the author never wanted to see the light of day. Patrick White never wanted this novel released; I believe he did tell someone to burn it because it wasn’t finished or anywhere near ready for readers. There are heaps of authors that have had books released that were never meant to be released including; Kurt Vonnegut, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Leo Tolstoy and the most famous of them all was Franz Kafka’s The Trial. This does lead to some interesting topics; do you think books that the author never intended to be released should be published? Are publishers just using them as a money making gimmick? And lastly, if those manuscripts were submitted to a publisher by an unknown author, would they still be published?

Patrick White is a two time Miles Franklin award winner and has also won the Nobel Prize for Literature. His unfinished novel The Hanging Garden was only just recently published; it feels like an old novel in the sense that, while it’s nicely written; nothing ever happens in the book. This is very much a character driven book, focusing on the two characters and a wild garden. I think I’d be alright with reading a book like this if I didn’t have the feeling that the author hated every single one of his characters; he was mean and cruel to them all, not just the key characters. As a general rule I love dark and flawed characters but this just felt mean and even the attempts of being erotic felt awkward. I spent the whole book waiting for something to happen and I was left disappointed. Also, as this is an unfinished novel, I don’t know what the overall goal was with this book and I get the feeling that maybe Patrick White doesn’t either. There are parts of this book that are beautifully written and then there are parts that felt like the author’s ramblings. This is supposed to be an unedited book but while I think there was some editing done there are also parts of the book that clearly feel unedited. Including a few paragraphs that didn’t make sense and had no punctuation and then some notes to himself reminding him to explore or research some parts later. While I’m not a fan of this book, I think a lot of people might get a kick out of it. Either for the memories of the time and the place; the memorable characters, or just to see the thought process of once of Australian top authors of all time.

On this day 100 years ago, Patrick White was born