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Showing posts from April, 2015

Amnesia

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In Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, the chief protagonist, Saleem Sinai, is born on the exact moment of India's Independence, and is imbued with special powers as a result. So, what might an Australian version of such a novel be? This is a little unfair as a question - but Peter Carey's latest novel, Amnesia has its subject (if not protagonist) Gabrielle Baillieux born on November 11, 1975, at the exact moment the Whitlam Labour government is being dismissed from office by the Governor General and conservative forces. This is the era of the cold war, of the coup against the elected Allende government in Chile, and in Australian terms - of the dramatic end to the first Labour party in office since the end of the Chifley government in 1949. Gaby's birth date, like Saleem's, is symbolic of the novel's intent and themes. In this case, it suggests the American influence over Australian politics; the retributive power of conservative forces when threatened b…

The Snow Kimono

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Mark Henshaw's The Snow Kimono begins in a deceptively straightforward manner with the introduction of Auguste Jovert, former police inspector, now retired Parisian. He meets a Japanese man of his age who introduces himself as Tadashi Omura, a former professor of law, now resident of the same apartment block as Jovert. Henshaw utitlises an omniscient narrative technique that allows him to move between storytellers with ease. For example, Omura's narrative, begins as such: 'One afternoon, Omura was saying, I decided to take Fumiko to see her mother's grave' (p.10). The next six or seven pages follow this line, and then we are reminded of Jovert's place as listener in the present: 'Jovert sat looking across at [Omura]' (p.17).

So far, so good, as we learn of Omura's love for his adopted daughter (or the girl he has brought up as his own, from the age of three). Things get complicated from here, so that it is in many ways hard to distil; Omura tells …