Combined Reviews: Landscape of Farewell by Alex Miller

landscape_farewell.jpg Reviews of Landscape of Farewell by Alex iMller
Allen and Unwin
November 2007

[This novel has been longlisted for the 2008 Miles Franklin Award.]

From the publisher's page
A hauntingly beautiful meditation on the land, the past, exile and friendship, Landscape of Farewell is the powerful new novel from acclaimed Australian author, Alex Miller. It is the story of Max Otto, an elderly German academic. After the death of his much-loved wife and his recognition that he will never write the great study of history that was to be his life's crowning work, Max believes his life is all but over. Everything changes, though, when his valedictory lecture is challenged by Professor Vita McLelland, a feisty young Australian Aboriginal academic visiting Germany. Their meeting and growing friendship sets Max on a journey that would have seemed unthinkable just a few short weeks earlier. When, at Vita's invitation, Max travels to ustralia, he forms a deep friendship with her uncle, Aboriginal elder Dougald Gnapun. It is a friendship that not only gives new meaning and purpose to Max, but which teaches him the profound importance of truth-telling in reconciliation with his own and his ountry's past. Following Alex Miller's Miles Franklin-winning Journey to the Stone Country, Landscape of Farewell is a wise and grave novel of power, beauty and truth.

Angela Bennie in "The Sydney Morning Herald": "Miller's great strengths here are his often startling, sometimes mesmerising facility to twist the language into new patterns and images, his ability to carve idiosyncratic characters out of the crooked and gnarled off-cuts of humanity, rather fashion them from smoother timbers. Always, the novel appears to be driven by an urgent need to reveal how these kinds of beliefs -- which historically have caused us so much sorrow and, in many cases, so much bloody murder -- might instead become virtues...In these moments, Landscape Of Farewell becomes a rare experience."

Jack Hibberd in "The Australian": "On the evidence of Landscape of Farewell, Alex Miller is a sombre and sober author whose prose interlocks adroitly with his lugubrious thematic concerns. Not for him the sceptical fabrications and comic diversities of modernism or the antic relativities of postmodernism. Alex is no smart alec...Landscape of Farewell is laced and interlarded with flashbacks, dreams, prescient Jungian premonitions and binary selves, some of which knit past with present, place with place."

Hilary McPhee in "The Australian": "I suspect that, for Miller, the search for moral clarity is something like the terrible climb up the escarpment in the Expedition Ranges in his latest novel, Landscape of Farewell...Massacre is the blockage in the Australian imagination, in our sense of ourselves in this place, and the wounds are very deep. Miller is essential reading."

Lisa Gorton in "The Age": "The past haunts Miller's characters and his stories puzzle out the mystery of that haunting. They are strange, extreme novels. Yet, in the ghost story tradition, Miller creates narrators whose detached intelligence holds these fantastical elements in a close and precisely imagined world...[this book] gathers up some of the interests that have shaped some of Miller's novels: The Ancestor Game, Journey to the Stone Country and Prochownik's Dream. It teases out how the past makes itself present in the relationship between fathers and sons; it works to define what art takes from people's lives, and what it gives."

Shirley Walker in "Australian Book Review": "Landscape of Farewell has a rare level of wisdom and profundity. Few writers since Joseph Conrad have had so fine an appreciaton of the equivocations of the individual conscience and their relationships to the long processes of history. But perhaps I am over-intellectualising what is, after all, a very human story, passionately told."

Corrie Perkin's interview with the author for "The Australian".

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 4, 2008 1:30 PM.

2008 IMAC Dublin Literary Award Shortlist was the previous entry in this blog.

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