A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published November 4th 2015
How Would You Define Australia?
Memoir is about self-examination. In this case the self is 'us', Australia the place, country, people and soul. In the process of writing about place Tim Winton also reveals his own 'getting of wisdom', his influences and people who shaped his writing and by definition, his life.
Tim Winton is an acclaimed Australian novelist and short story writer, finding acclaim from an early age. He has won the Miles Franklin award for literature four times. His most well known book would be Cloudstreet, which has been adapted for the television, stage and an opera.
The writing is always finely executed, bordering on the same territory examined by Don Watson's The Bush, defining how we came to be the way we are. He writes 'Australia the place is constantly overshadowed by Australia the National idea, Australia the economic enterprise'. Here is the dilemma and conundrum of trying to define the essence of Australia, but Tim Winton manages to breathe fresh life into this concept.
This is a treatise on our culture and the vastness of our island home; in fact I don't think Tim Winton uses the word vast once. But the whole gamut of the how the country was settled, developed and shaped is brought into focus via his own journey from child to grandparent. He writes of finding what is sacred to our people, a big ask. But Tim relates Australia's heart to home and family. Home being such an emotive word. He also wrestles with the indigenous people's dispossession from their land as the result of settlement.
Our national psyche may contain a carry over of homesickness for other homelands that seeps into many parts of our lives. This yearning for other homelands can occur even though we have never been to these places. For there is still a sense that Australia is a new place. Island Home melds a sense of pride and lament for our country, this strange land that is so big. 'Too big and rich and complex to be truly understood'.
We are a new country (but the landscape is not), which is so far from other places, especially Winton's home in Western Australia. Tim Winton fosters a growing call out for preserving the delicate landscape that is so endangered. He is a poetic and lyrical observer with this brilliant ability to describe our place without it becoming a weighty academic tome.
Tim Winton has won the Miles Franklin award for literature four times.
His gradual awakening of activism for the environment, the coast and land mirrors the general population's awakening as people become attuned to the very real threats to the flora and fauna in this Great South Land. I can always measure a good read by the void I find when it is finished. Finding a voice this well tuned is hard to replace with another lesser writer. I'm hoping Tim Winton has many more volumes of writing in store. Published by Penguin Australia