Combined Reviews: Blood by Tony Birch

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blood.jpg    Blood
Tony Birch

[This novel has been shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award.]

From the publisher's page:
The country we were driving through was flat as an iron and bone dry. The sky was big, blue and empty, except for a flaming ball of sun, low in the sky. It had tracked us all day liek a satellite and it looked about read to explode.

Jesse has sworn to protect his sister, Rachel, no matter what. It's a promise that cannot be broken. A promise made in blood. But, when it comes down to life or death, how can he find the courage to keep it?

Set on the back roads of Australia, Blood is a boy's odyssey through a broken-down adult world.


Conrad Walters in "The Sydney Morning Herald": "Blood, Birch's first published novel, carries echoes of the semi-autobiographical stories that weave together in his first story collection, Shadowboxing: violent men, a first-person narrator, fleeting yet tangible moments of joy and a hand-to-mouth life on the fringes where money is visible but forever out of reach. The voice, too, confirms Birch's mastery of a young protagonist whose experience informs knowledge that exceeds his years but never cloys with precociousness. Through Birch's hand, Jesse's view of his world deftly balances the naivete of youth and insights forged through hardship...As with Birch's short stories, the writing here is unadorned, the language bordering on plain. But beneath this, the author explores Jesse's desperation to escape and his fear of what will happen to Rachel if he follows Gwen's selfish example."

Ed Wright in "The Australian": "This absorbing and endearing tale of children in adversity is the debut novel by Tony Birch, an accomplished short-story writer and longstanding teacher of creative writing at the University of Melbourne...There have been quite a few adult novels in recent years that focus on the children of the underclasses. Blood has some correspondence, for instance, to Mandy Sayer's The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. DBC Pierre's Booker prize-winning Vernon God Little is another. Of course, the featuring of underprivileged children in novels is nothing new. Charles Dickens made a career out of it and in the Australian canon there are wonderful stories such as Ruth Park's The Harp in the South and Doris Pilkington Garimara's Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence...This voice never slips. It never feels confected or overplayed. This draws you into the story and makes Blood feel like it is more than the sum of its parts. For a first innings in the long form, it's impressive stuff."

Jo Case for "Readings": "This is a fractured fairytale, a dark Australian road story, but also an affecting tale about the bond between a brother and sister, and how the most unexpected people can transform lives. Birch delivers edge-of-your-seat suspense and engrossing characterisation in equal measures."


Sarah L'Estrange on ABC radio National's "The Book Show".
Jo Case for "Readings".
Richard Aedy on ABC Radio National's "Life Matters".
Lisa Hill on the "ANZ LitLovers LitBlog" weblog.


The author, on the writing of his novel, for "Meanjin".

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 30, 2012 9:39 PM.

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Australian Bookcovers #304 - Miss Herbert (The Suburban Wife) by Christina Stead is the next entry in this blog.

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