An Open Swimmer
"Jerra and his best mate Sean set off in a beat-up old VW to go camping on the coast. Jerra's friends and family want to know when he will finish university, when he will find a girl. But they don't understand about Sean's mother, Jewel, or the bush or the fish with the pearl.
"They think he needs a job but what Jerra is searching for is more elusive. Only the sea, and perhaps the old man who lives in a shack beside it, can help."
"Amid brooding images of mutilation and guilt, awakening sexuality and displacement of ideals...Winton draws together a delicate pattern of images and tensions and energy. His first novel, it is a work of energy and restraint." - Helen Daniel, The Good Reading Guide
It had been a long fight between Jerra Nilsam and the fish. He pressed the flat end of the oar against its brow. Globes of moisture clustered on its flanks. His father grinned in the stern. The engine was chuckling. Water parted like an incision behind. The fish grunted. His father said it was a turrum. The long fan of tail slapped the gunwhale, the gills were pumping, and blood globbed the bottom of the boat.
In the water, the black diamond, the mate, cruised. When he had gaffed the turrum over the side, cuffed on the chin by the tail, the diamond had been there, silver when the sun caught its flanks.
Chuff-chuff, the turrum was grunting. Looking up at him, the eye never blinked. The fish began to thresh, clenching and unclenching. Jerra kept the oar hard over its brow, near the gaff-hole. His palms were bleeding and he wanted to cry. He grinned back at his father.
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1996.
This novel won The Australian/Vogel Award in 1981.
This page and its contents are copyright © 1997-2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Tim Winton Page.
Last modified: November 27, 2001.