Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Richard Flanagan's new novel: Wanting

Wanting is an exceptionally good novel. It's gripping, and stays with you long after you put it down.

Its mid-19th century setting enables Flanagan to explore its themes without the constraints of modern sensibility or political correctness, using the language and concepts of the day ('savages', 'extermination', 'civilised' etc) and with a great deal of sympathy for brutal, order-imposing colonisers as well as the native aborigines who suffered them and who..er..all died.

This is history, but from the inside. So it's the power of imaginative fiction that brings early Tasmania alive and sucks you in.

A parallel narrative concerns Charles Dickens, but its linkage with the Tasmanian story is tenuous at best. But by itself it's fascinating too.

Buy it and read it.

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