“I grew up on the world’s largest island.” This apparently simple fact is the starting point for Tim Winton’s beautiful, evocative, and sometimes provocative memoir of Australia’s unique landscape, and how that singular place has shaped him and his writing.
For over thirty years, Winton has written novels in which the natural world is as much a living presence as any character. What is true of his work is also true of his life: from boyhood, his relationship with the world around him—rock pools, sea caves, scrub, and swamp—was as vital as any other connection. Camping in hidden inlets, walking in high rocky desert, diving in reefs, bobbing in the sea between surfing sets, Winton has felt the place seep into him, with its rhythms, its dangers, its strange sustenance, and learned to see landscape as a living process. In Island Home, Winton brings this landscape—and its influence on the island nation’s identity and art—vividly to life through personal accounts and environmental history.
Wise, rhapsodic, exalted—in language as unexpected and wild as the landscape it describes—Island Home is a brilliant, moving portrait of Australia from one of its finest writers.
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Praise and Prizes
“Winton gives us an aerial view of humanity’s situation and its effect on those with whom we share the planet. . . . At a time when the Paris agreement on combating climate change is being undermined by our current administration, when wild lands are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the ravages of global warming and fossil fuel development, Island Home is more than a memoir. It’s a call to arms that is at once distinctively local and painfully global.”
“Insightful and vibrant . . . In part a love song to Australia and also an attempt to trace how this love affair began . . . Island Home is a delight to read: Tim Winton’s words chink like loose change, a foreign currency, mysterious. But more than anything, the book is a call to arms, a manifesto. It beseeches us to revere the land that sustains us, crying out to us for help.”
“Tim Winton, one of Australia’s most acclaimed novelists, excels at conveying the shadowy side of his country’s beauty.”
“There is a sense at the start of Man Booker Prize short-listed author Winton’s personal and cultural panorama of Australia that one has traveled too far off the map and become hopelessly lost in his transporting, place-specific language. Indigenous particularities feed Winton’s life story and prose, and the landscape reads as alien and all-encompassing in its beauty, enormity, and seclusion. . . . The world’s largest island deserves nothing less than Winton’s beautifully curated, intimate, environmentally sensitive history.”
“Lyrical and artistic . . . The evocative beauty of Island Home is not to be denied.”
“In Island Home, Winton trains his acute and lucid gaze on Australia’s landscape and people, on himself and on our wounded planet. The connections are at once personal and universal. . . . If you haven’t read his work, I envy your journey of discovery.”
“Tim Winton’s Australia is teeming and brimming and shrieking and squawking with life.”
“Like Wordsworth, Tim Winton understands and feels the ‘abiding power’ of certain places. . . . The writer of memoir can be triumphantly personal, quixotic, eccentric, risky, and daring. In Island Home, Winton is all of these. This most exquisite of prose writers eases stylistic discipline out a notch or two. . . . The last chapter of this inspiring, sometimes painfully frank, wonderful memoir is called ‘Paying Respect,’ and . . . its clarion call is Blakean: everything that lives is holy.”
“Island Home is a powerful and poetic read, an expression of Tim Winton’s intense love of the land and the sea, and for Australia’s unique flora and fauna.”