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The Hamilton Case


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'A mesmeric study of a family, a scandal and a murder, set in Ceylon in the 1930s. (Booker judges, where were you?)' Hilary Mantel, Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and migrated to Australia with her family in 1972. She has taught English at the University of Melbourne, as well as working as an editor and book reviewer. Her novels, The Rose Grower (1999), The Hamilton Case (2003) and The Lost Dog (2008) have been published across the world and translated into several languages. The Hamilton Case was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for South-East Asia and the Pacific, the Encore Award and the Tasmania Pacific Prize for Australian and New Zealand fiction. She lives in Melbourne.


Michelle de Kretser's first book, The Rose Grower, was 'a novel of love and the French Revolution'. This novel is set in Ceylon in the 1930s-de Kretser has created an utterly different world to that of her first book, but it is just as convincing and evocative. Here, the main character is Sam Obeysekere, a member of the Ceylonese elite that the English endowed with power and status. The first part of the book is his own account of his life, and I was impressed with the way that de Kretser used this narrative so effectively to convey the mindset of the Ceylonese who were devoted to the empire, while at the same time evoking a broader picture of Ceylon and its people. The novel revolves around the murder of Hamilton, an English plantation owner. With this murder, the history of Sam's family, and island politics, de Kretser never gives the reader a simple answer. Just as we think we know what happened, another dimension is added, which is later subverted by yet another layer. This is an absorbing book, a beautifully written and compelling story from a time and place rarely visited by literary fiction, that offers a new insight into the experience of colonisation. Mary Ellen Jordan is a bookseller and freelance writer C. 2003 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

A novel so delicious that you have to keep stopping as you read, for fear of finishing too soon -- Jane Shilling * Sunday Telegraph *
A bewitching utterly captivating blend of intellectual muscle and story-telling magic * Independent *
Reminiscent of The Remains of the Day. De Kretser has given us the classic whodunnit wrapped up in a beautiful and tragic literary novel * Vogue *
Haunting, lush and delicately nuanced * Observer *
Rewarding, thought-provoking, witty and often disconcerting, the novel takes the reader into a world of transformations - conjuring a fiction which is tantalizingly vivid * Times Literary Supplement *

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