Shortlisted for the 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award
An exhilarating new book from Australia's most acclaimed writer
Tim Winton is Australia's most decorated and beloved literary novelist. Short-listed twice for the Booker Prize and the winner of a record four Miles Franklin Awards for Best Australian Novel, he has a gift for language virtually unrivaled among English-language novelists. His work is both tough and tender, primordial and new—always revealing the raw, instinctual drives that lure us together and rend us apart.
In Eyrie, Winton crafts the story of Tom Keely, a man struggling to accomplish good in an utterly fallen world. Once an ambitious, altruistic environmentalist, Keely now finds himself broke, embroiled in scandal, and struggling to piece together some semblance of a life. From the heights of his urban high-rise apartment, he surveys the wreckage of his life and the world he's tumbled out of love with. Just before he descends completely into pills and sorrow, a woman from his past and her preternatural child appear, perched on the edge of disaster, desperate for help.
When you're fighting to keep your head above water, how can you save someone else from drowning? As Keely slips into a nightmarish world of con artists, drug dealers, petty violence, and extortion, Winton confronts the cost of benevolence and creates a landscape of uncertainty. Eyrie is a thrilling and vertigo-inducing morality tale, at once brutal and lyrical, from one of our finest storytellers.
Tom Keely, the 40-something central figure in Winton's (Breath) beautifully written powerful ninth novel, is in the throes of a midlife crisis: once a well-known environmental activist, now he's a "middle-class casualty," sacked from his job and self-destructing, while the world crumbles around him . The setting is Freemantle, a port city near Perth, Australia ("Freo" in Aussie slang), Keely's hometown. Freo, and Australia as a whole, are case studies in how greed and corruption at the government level, and crime and drug dealing at the community level, can tear the fabric of the a town. Keely finds a measure of salvation in Gemma Buck, a childhood friend now stocking shelves in a supermarket and taking care of her grandson Kai. The preternaturally innocent six-year-old boy brings Keely back from the brink, and the trio form an unlikely (but laudable) family. Winton slowly reveals Keely's backstory, but what intrigues is the main storyline Keely's journey, with Gemma and Kai, through Freo's lower-class underbelly as well as the prose. He's an absurdly good writer, with not only the proverbial eye for detail but also a facility for rendering each detail in an original way. Winton is ambitious; this is a state-of-the-nation novel about a world run amok. Keely is argumentative, but the book as a whole is not. Winton's use of Australian vernacular will be a challenge to many American readers, but it will be a challenge well worth taking: this is a fascinating, thought-provoking book.