Friday, August 18, 2006

Title: Another

Genre: Novel

Author: Joel Deane

Publisher: IP

Year: 2004

Pages: 214

ISBN: 1 876819 25 1

Awards: Winner, IP Picks Best Fiction Award

'This striking debut novel by poet and Steve Bracks' speechwriter Deane exposes a mythical outer-suburban housing estate in somewhere (anywhere), Australia. Teenage protagonist Toby is a pacifist stranded in a sea of violence. His scars, arising from a mysterious accident, fascinate young Suzie. Self-harming Suzie pushes Toby into deeper and deeper water, until even murder seems just a precursor to something worse. Side characters are finely drawn, as is the concept of multi-generational domestic abuse and overheated, under-resourced locale. At times, a theme of ghostly indigenous children distracts you from the main narrative, but this winner of the IP Fiction Prize represents a fresh, compelling voice in contemporary Australian fiction. Not for the squemish.' - Jen Jewel Brown, Melbourne Weekly

'The novel is filmic in its attention to detail and almost unremittingly bleak. However, despite the grotty realism, the narrative is interspersed with lyrical magical realist moments. At times a narrator, in utero, contemplates the cosmic wonder of life in lines that reveal Deane’s double life as a poet: ‘I see this day dying ... and find myself in love with [it] for no good reason.’ The unborn narrator also comments on Toby’s blindness to the future and the past, which includes, as well as his own family’s tragedies, crimes against Aborigines. Sometimes Toby does see the shadows of history that rise – like the undead, like sinister unreason – with the night. These interludes are reminiscent of those in Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, which provides an interesting counterpoint. Deane’s novel represents a similar workingclass demographic, but rejects Winton’s heady romanticisation.' - Maria Takolander, Australian Book Review

'Another is harsh, a gruelling depiction of family breakdown, petty crime, adolescent discontent and inner and outer scars. Its confronting stream of short sentences jerked out as if in pain, convincingly capture the mood of sullen confusion.' - Paul Gimmel, Overland

'Another is a cleverly-structured piece of dark realist literature, portraying the harsh realities of everyday life in a most visual manner. Deane succeeds in creating disjointed slices of reality that come together to both shock and haunt his readers.' Rachael Blair, Journal of Australian Studies

'Joel Deane's first novel has just been published and is, in a word, compelling.' - Bob Hart, Herald Sun

'An unremitingly bleak story ... it is a part of Australian life that our literature hasn't much interest in coming to terms with and Deane seems to write about it from the inside and with real compassion for his characters' struggles.' - Owen Richardson, The Age

'This is the rubble of suburbia, an Australia we are too smug to acknowledge, too scared to enter. Joel Deane has written a dark and moving novel about families on the margins.' - George Megalogenis

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