Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Matthew Kneale, ENGLISH PASSENGERS
If you liked *Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet*, you might give this a try. It is a brilliant, dense, bitterly humorous, wide-ranging tale told by half a dozen narrators, including Captain Illiam Quillian Kewley, who has managed to launch a smuggling operation on his new boat; a half-black, half-white aborigine from Tasmania named Peevey, who is filled with vitriolic hatred of the whites who have driven him hither and thither and killed nearly everyone he knows; and the three "English Passengers" of the title, who voyage on Kewley's ship to Tasmania. One of this is roughly based on Knox, whose viciously racist notions were published in the mid 1800s; another is a self-righteous preacher who believes he will find the original site of Eden in Tasmania; the third is a lazy botanist who has been shoved out of England by his family, who has declared him hopeless. A masterpiece (and Booker Prize Finalist), but NOT a quick read.