Review by Ilse Scheepers
From a kernel of personal history - the survival of her ancestor George Hills in a catastrophic shipwreck - Jane Rawson has spun an eerie, disquieting tale about the nature of survival and the connection between the human world and the animal one.
Rawson takes things in a startling direction early on, bringing to mind the New Weird fiction of authors like China Mieville: as well as a wholly human protagonist, one of her key characters is an alien from another dimension who takes the form of an octopus. I always knew they were up to something, the slimy things.
But unlike Mieville and his cohort, Rawson keeps a tight grip on the narrative, never letting it spill into the absurd. Her ability to keep its feet firmly rooted in historical fiction, with just a tinge of the strange is what makes this a fantastic read.
From the Wreck tells the remarkable story of George Hills, who survived the sinking of the steamship Admella off the South Australian coast in 1859. Haunted by his memories and the disappearance of a fellow survivor, George's fractured life is intertwined with that of a woman from another dimension, seeking refuge on Earth. This is a novel imbued with beauty and feeling, filled both with existential loneliness and a deep awareness that all life is interdependent.
About the Author
Jane Rawson grew up in Canberra. During years as a travel editor and writer, mostly for Lonely Planet, she dawdled around the streets of San Francisco, Prague and Phnom Penh and left smitten. She has also worked as the Environment Editor for news website The Conversation. She likes cats, quiet, minimal capitalisation, and finding out that everything is going to be OK.
‘It’s hard to find the right words to praise this novel. I think we need a whole new critical vocabulary to be invented. Rawson recreates a vanished historical world with utterly convincing characters as well as inhabits the mind of a cephalopod alien and make us feel, in both cases, yes, that’s exactly how it is. Jane Rawson's writing is mysterious, chilling and tender. The book is a sort of miracle.’
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 1st March 2017
Publisher: Transit Lounge Publishing
Country of Publication: AU
Weight (kg): 0.35