Tim Winton has published twenty-six books for adults and children, and his work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Since his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the Australian Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Award four times (for Shallows,Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and Breath) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders and Dirt Music). He lives in Western Australia. Find out more on Facebook
Australian author Winton, at age 26, has won his country's highest awards and critics' acclaim for An Open Swimmer and Shallows. His third novel is narrated by 10-year-old Morton (Ort) Flack in a distinctive voice that holds the reader's attention and emotions throughout this coming-of-age chronicle. The catalyst is a car crash that leaves Ort's father, Sam, paralyzed and precipitates tribulations for his family. The Flacksincluding Ort's weak mother Alice, his sexy sister Tegwyn and his lonely, senile grandmotherare poor settlers in the Outback. As the family's circumstances dwindle, Ort hopes for a miracle that will cure his beloved father, but is frightened when a stranger, itinerant evangelist Henry Warburton, insinuates himself into the household. Alice is attracted to Warburton, who helps care for Sam and preaches religious dogma even while he's having his way with Tegwyn. A crisis looms, and its unforeseen effects end the wrenching story that proves love like Ort's can prevail against hell itself. (March)
Australian Winton's American debut novel, Shallows, dealt with an entire community facing a crisis. In this more tightly focused book, one family deals with the crisis caused by a tragic accident. Sam Flack and his wife are leftover Sixties hippies, with a son called Ort verging on adolescence when a car wreck leaves Sam comatose. A mysterious stranger, whom Ort has seen living beneath a bridge, arrives and announces he has come to care for Sam. The stranger turns out to be another burned-out Sixties survivor who hopes to redeem himself. Obviously intended as a parable about the curative powers of love and faith, this is sometimes genuinely moving and brings to mind Agee's A Death in the Family , but its resolution seems forced and lacks conviction. Even so, Ort's grappling to make sense of his terribly altered world makes this a book worth considering. Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.