Saturday, March 31, 2012

'Johnno is a beautifully written elegy to a lost friend and a vanished city. Dante, the narrator, remembers his boyhood friend, Johnno, and the Brisbane of their post-war youth, which he paints in loving detail. He recaptures the heat, the lush vegetation, the pubs and the public library, the back yards and the brothels of a city that with World War 2 had just come into the big world and was about to lose its particular ragged charm and become a modern city just like any other. Johnno is the book that put Brisbane on the literary map, and in a sense that is just what Malouf intended.'

'The Boat raises the bar for Australian writing.' PETER CRAVEN

'Nam Le is . . . a disturber of the peace.Consider the subjects of his stories: a child assassin in Colombia ('Cartagena'), an ageing New York artist desperate for a reconciliation with his daughter ('Meeting Elise'), a boy's coming of age in a rough Victorian fishing town ('Halflead Bay'), before the first atomic bomb falls in Japan ('Hiroshima'), The suffocations of theocracy in Iran ('Tehran Calling'). This astonishing range is topped and tailed by accounts of the uneasy reunion of a young Vietnamese writer in America with his ex-soldier father, and by the title story – the escape of a group of exhausted refugees from the Vietcong in a wallowing boat.