I’ve just finished reading a wonderful new book from Tim Winton, Island Home (Picador), which is both a celebration of Australia’s wild places and an impassioned argument for their preservation. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read any of Winton’s novels — ashamed because his preoccupations are so much in tune with those of Deskbound Traveller: in Island Home, he writes that “the effect of the power of place on the behaviour and aspirations of the people around me has been my underlying and ongoing concern”. So I’ve just ordered Cloudstreet, which I see Philip Hensher has described in the introduction to the Picador edition as “the great Australian novel”.
Winton says in Island Home that the greatest influence on his own writing was the novelist Randolph Stow (1935-2010), who was born in Geraldton, Winton’s mother’s home town, and died in Essex. He was a writer “who seemed to feel the country of his birth as if he wore it”. The same might be said of Winton himself.
At the end of the new book, there’s a note saying that Island Home had its beginnings in a collaboration with the photographer Richard Woldendorp, and that an essay, “The Island Seen and Felt”, was first given as a talk at the Royal Academy in London in 2013. You can still listen to that talk on the Royal Academy’s website.
On Soundcloud (see below) there’s also a good ABC radio interview with Winton about Island Home, recorded when the book came out in Australia seven months ago.