The unnamed narrator of Dead Birds is an 'utamu'. the spirit of a beheaded man. Set in pre-colonial Papua, the novel is based on the 1877 journey of Italian naturalist and explorer Luigi D'Albertis and his crew as the travel by steam launch up the Fly River in search of new specimens, ethnographic artefacts and the much-prized birds of paradise.
Crammed into the tiny vessel, the crew play out a story of conflicting races, languages, motives and desires against the backdrop of the river's mercurial beauty and the ever-present threat of the Fly tribesmen, who have been quelled once too often by the injudicious use of guns and dynamite. Two cultures, two totally opposite world views are dramatised moment by moment through a sequence of days and nights until the journey comes to its fateful end.
About the Author
Trevor Shearston was born in 1946 in Sydney. He began an Arts/Law degree at the University of Sydney, but in his first week at the old Law School in Philip Street saw men only a year older than he was wearing three-piece suits and carrying furled brollies along with their pink-ribboned files. Somehow he completed first-year Law, thus gaining an Arts degree, then ran to the employment pages of the Herald where he found and answered an ad for graduate teachers in what was then The Territory of Papua and New Guinea. His first posting, in 1968, was to Mendi, in the Southern Highlands District
Literary Fiction/Australian Fiction
Number Of Pages: 243
Published: 1st September 2007
Publisher: ABC Books
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.7 x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.244