Tom Keely's reputation is in ruins.
And that's the upside.
Divorced and unemployed, he's lost faith in everything precious to him. Holed up in a grim highrise, cultivating his newfound isolation, Keely looks down at a society from which he's retired hurt and angry. He's done fighting the good fight, and well past caring.
But even in his seedy flat, ducking the neighbours, he's not safe from entanglement. All it takes is an awkward encounter in the lobby. A woman from his past, a boy the likes of which he's never met before. Two strangers leading a life beyond his experience and into whose orbit he falls despite himself.
What follows is a heart-stopping, groundbreaking novel for our times – funny, confronting, exhilarating and haunting. Inhabited by unforgettable characters, Eyrie asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.
Read John Purcell's Review
While reading Tim Winton's latest novel, Eyrie, I couldn't help thinking about Charlotte Wood's Animal People, Zadie Smith's NW and to a lesser extent, Julian Barnes' Sense of an Ending. All four books have been published in the last five years. Each chronicles the lives of people making do within a society they have inherited. Each book is despairing of the turn the western world has taken. Each searches for some sign that all is not lost.
Eyrie takes things one step further. All is lost in Tim Winton's book. There is no hope whatsoever. The backdrop to Winton's despair is the West Australian government's acquiescence to the needs of mining companies. His protagonist Tom Keely, a onetime prominent local environmentalist, is a defeated man. The tide of his life is out and all is exposed to the unforgiving sun. But it is at this moment someone from the forgotten past enters his life. She is all life has to offer him now. There are no easy choices. The route back to life promises to be unforgiving and without reward. Can Tom Keely pull himself together one last time?
The lesson here is, if there is a lesson, "ashes or diamonds, foe or friend, we're all equal in the end".
Shortlisted for the 2014 Miles Franklin Award
About the Author
Tim Winton has published twenty-one books for adults and children, and his work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Since his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the Australian/Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Award four times (for Shallows, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and Breath) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders and Dirt Music). He lives in Western Australia.
*Starred Review* "[A] beautifully written powerful ninth novel . . . [Winton's] an absurdly good writer, with not only the proverbial eye for detail but also a facility for rendering each detail in an original way. Winton is ambitious; this is a state-of-the-nation novel about a world run amok . . . this is a fascinating, thought-provoking book."
"Eyrie" is a fine work by any standard. It tackles myths of prosperity and success in a way that is not always comfortable, but that stirs deep thought. It is rich in compassion and affectionate towards the unlovely. It has a strong belief that no journey ends at the halfway mark. "Eyrie" is a novel for which our culture has been in urgent need."
Michael McGirr, "The Age" (Australia)
"["Eyrie"] bears witness to how the sprawling suburban world of this older generation, so often perched on the edge of wilder natural landscapes, has been tidied up, boxed in, the ecology of childhood imagination narrowed to PlayStation and satellite dish. Mostly though, it is a clear-eyed yet compassionate depiction of the underclass that lives off the crumbs of the resource boom . . . However elaborate your analysis of "Eyrie," the novel stands, like all of the author's work, on its ability to marry sophistication and simplicity. Page by page it is an engrossing novel; the reader is moved and enraged in equal measure by the plain human story of Keely and his beautiful, battered adoptive family. You long for the good guy to win. You pray and ache for a fresh start for them all. And, as ever, it is couched in the prose of a writer on whom nothing is lost, for whom the tiniest local detail bears an epiphanic charge . . . 'Bravo, ' thinks Keely, 'f . . king brava.' On finishing "Eyrie," I felt much the same."
Geordie Williamson, "The Australian"