The Tyrant's Novel
"Trapped behind barbed wire in an alien land, a man used to guarding his secrets is compelled to set the record straight...
"Imagine a faraway country that was once a friend to the West becoming the enemy, its people isolated and savagely represented by a tyrant known as the Great Uncle. As one of the country's most celebrated writers and a war hero, the storyteller has a better life than most - until he is made an offer he can't refuse.
"He must write a great novel, telling of the suffering of his people under the enemy's cruel economic sanctions and portraying Great Uncle as their saviour. This masterpiece must be completed in time for its international debut in three months - or else. If the writer cannot - or will not - meet the tryant's deadline, he and anyone he cares for will pay the ultimate price.
"Stark, terrifying and utterly compelling, The Tyrant's Novel is both a gripping thriller and a chilling glimpse of a fictional world that seems all too real."
It's a truism almost embarrassing to repeat that a particular government might find it suitable to have an enemy-in-the-midst, more imagined than real, whom they can point out to the populace as the threat. And from that threat, only this party, this view of the polity they manage, can save the innocent sleep of the citizenry.
That's how it was with us when there appeared in our plain outer suburbs and our desert towns double-walled gulags. Those who, sincerely or opportunistically, came from afar to seek asylum in our community were detained and isolated there as a virus too toxic to be released. They were isolated not for six weeks, not merely until it was discovered whether they had dangerous powers or connections, or were carrying antibiotic-resistant TB; not for six months, to allow the watchers to observe their behaviour. But for years. The apolitical infant fugitives detained with their complex and supposedly dangerous parents.
From the Doubleday hardcover edition, 2003.
This page and its contents are copyright ©2004-05 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Thomas Keneally page.
Last modified: March 31, 2005.