Frustrated by country life and eager for adventure and excitement, seventeen-year-old Tom Button moves to the city to study. Once there, and living in a run-down apartment block called Cairo, he is befriended by the eccentric musician Max Cheever, his beautiful wife Sally, and their close-knit circle of painters and poets.
As Tom falls under the sway of his charismatic older friends, he enters a bohemian world of parties and gallery openings. Soon, however, he is caught up in more sinister events involving deception and betrayal, not to mention one of the greatest unsolved art heists of the twentieth century: the infamous theft of Picasso's Weeping Woman.
Set among the demimonde — where nothing and nobody is as they seem — Cairo is a novel about growing up, the perils of first love, and finding one's true place in the world.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
When it comes to unsolved crimes, few are as intriguing as the mystery of who stole Picasso's Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria in 1986. It was the perfect crime in every way, and the beauty of it was, no one was harmed. Sure, reputations were bruised, but ultimately the painting was safely returned.
Womersley uses the theft as the basis for a really meaty set-up; his narrator Tom is an innocent young man who moves from the country to bohemian Melbourne, falling in with a louche crowd of artists, who live in the same apartment building called Cairo and involve him in their plan to steal the Weeping Woman.
Seduced by his more sophisticated friends, their unconventional charisma and flamboyance, Tom is eager to please, particularly if it means he can be with Sally, the beautiful singer married to the dangerous, arrogant Max Cheever.
With the identity of the real thieves still unknown, there is plenty of room for speculation about who the Australian Cultural Terrorists really were and their motives. Womersley seizes the opportunity that these uncertainties offer, and fashions a compelling and almost plausible story.
About the Author
Chris Womersley's fiction and reviews have appeared in Granta, The Best Australian Stories 2006, 2010 and 2011, Griffith REVIEW, Meanjin and The Age. His debut novel, The Low Road, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction. His second novel, Bereft, won the Australian Book Industry Award for Literary Fiction and the Indie Award for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, The Age fiction prize and the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. Internationally it was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2012, and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award 2012.
Published: 21st August 2013
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Dimensions (cm): 23.0 x 15.4
Weight (kg): 23.4
Edition Number: 1