hit the van so hard it felt as though her eyeballs would spurt from
their sockets. Her arms flailed above her as he slammed her back again
and again. She felt the door edge, the hinge or something gouge her,
couldn’t get her hands to his stubbly face. She was powerless but
for the smile that stung her mouth, sharp as a split lip."
Reviewed by James Smith
arid and dusty lives, mirrored in the unremittingly harsh landscape of
Australia, have become the stock-in-trade of Tim Winton.
His previous book, the novel Dirt
Music, explored the growing closeness between two lonely
people adrift in the harsh environment of a Western Australian fishing
community. Reading it was a bit like staring at the sun: dazzling,
In The Turning, a
collection of overlapping stories set mainly in one town, Winton again
gives us fractured lives, drifting relationships, and several shades of
the violence that can erupt from the bitterness of failure.
There are many
turnings here - adolescent sexual awakening and rebellion, revenge,
death, the return of a past lover under very different circumstances -
but the overall theme of these stories is the way (so-called) ordinary
people struggle daily under the weight of expectation and
If this sounds
gloomy (the title story is particularly harrowing in its portrayal of
casual and spiteful domestic violence), don’t be put off;
Winton’s spare and emotive writing about the way human beings
survive in spite of each other is extraordinary.
for the Booker Prize, Winton somehow writes bigger novels than his
contemporaries, even though his themes of love, loss and the brutality
of life are common to them all. Maybe that’s because
Australia has a way of dwarving its inhabitants. Or maybe
he’s just a great writer. Or both.
(This review first appeared in Story)
Smith worked as a bookseller for ten years before moving to
Booktrust, an independent national charity that encourages people of
all ages and cultures to enjoy reading. He edits the Booktrust website
as well as the Story site and one dedicated to books about London
(www.getlondonreading.com). He is currently working on a website to
promote translated fiction in the UK.
Publication Date:April 2006
Winton was born in Perth in 1960. He is the author of many
books, including novels, two collections of stories (Minimum of Two and
The Turning), non-fiction and books for children. His first novel, An
Open Swimmer, won the Australian /Vogel Award. Cloudstreet won the
Banjo Award and the Miles Franklin Award in Australia and the Deo
Gloria Prize in England, and has been successfully adapted for the
theatre. He has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize twice, for The
Riders (1995) and Dirt Music (2002). His most recent book, Breath, will
be published in May 2008.
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