Tim Winton: Australia's Living Treasure

In addition to reviewing books, BookBrowse goes "beyond the book" to explore interesting aspects relating to each book we feature. Here is a "Beyond the Book" feature for Tim Winton's Eyrie:

Tim WintonTim Winton, the author of Eyrie, is that rare thing: a literary best-selling writer. While most American readers might still be getting to know this prolific author, he is as close to a national monument as person can get in his native Australia. 

Born in 1960, Winton started work on his first novel at the age of just 19 when he was enrolled in a creative writing course at Curtin University in Perth. That first work, the novel Open Swimmer, went on to win theVogel Australian National Literary Award. Since then, Winton has written dozens of books: novels, short-story collections and books for children. His work has received close to two-dozen awards including the prestigious Miles Franklin award. Two novels, Dirt Music andThe Riders have been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. 

Despite his early literary acclaim, Winton and his family had many financial struggles; his wife, Denise, had to plead for a $150 bank loan to buy food and presents one Christmas. It wasn't until 1991, with the publication of Cloudstreet, that Winton began to enjoy commercial success. 

High Street in FremantleAustralia, with its wide open spaces, is a vibrant part of Winton's stories. He lives in a small town a few hours' drive from Perth in Western Australia and is fiercely protective about his privacy: "It's just a little cray-fishing town in the central west. There's nothing there, just 600 people and 450 dogs," Winton says about his home town. "It's that small that there'd be nowhere to hide once people knew. And it's great, because no one gives a toss who I am up there; I go surfing with people who don't read my books and couldn't give a rat's." 

In 2013, when a rise in water temperatures lead to a massive die-off of the local abalone population, Winton saw it as cause to write a play, Signs of Life, that addresses environmental issues. In Eyrie, the protagonist, Tom Keely, is a disillusioned environmentalist, leading some to wonder if he isn't modeled, in part, after Winton himself. 

Ningaloo ReefIn 1993, Winton set up the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers to encourage writing in kids aged five to 18 in Western Australia. It is hosted by the city of Subaico, and 2014 marks the 22nd year of the award. Active in the environmental movement in Australia, Winton has been named a Living Treasure by the National Trust, and awarded the Centenary Medal for service to literature and the community. Perhaps he truly is a national monument. 


Bibliography 

2014 Eyrie
2013 Shrine play 
2012 Signs of Life, play 
2011 Rising water 2008 Breath
2006 Small Mercies, novella
2005 The Turning
2001 Dirt Music
1999 Down to Earth, with photography by Richard Woldendorp
1998 The Deep (Children's)
1998 Lockie Leonard, Legend, (Children's)
1998 Blueback
1995 The Riders
1995 The Collected Shorter Novels of Tim Winton
1995 Lockie Leonard (Children's)
1994 Local Colour, photography and text by Bill Bachman; additional text by Tim Winton
1993 Land's Edge
1993 Blood and Water: Stories
1992 Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo
1991 The Bugalugs Bum Thief (Children's)
1991 Cloudstreet
1988 Jesse
1988 In the Winter Dark
1987 Scission and Other Stories
1986 That Eye, the Sky
1986 Shallows
1985 A Blow, A Kiss
1985 Minimum of Two
1982 An Open Swimmer




Photograph of Tim Winton, courtesy of Penguin Books Australia
High Street, in Fremantle, the town in which Eyrie takes place, courtesy of Mitch Ames.
Ningaloo Reef. In 2003, Winton was awarded the inaugural Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Medal for his work in the campaign to save the Ningaloo Reef. Image courtesy of womangoingplaces.com.au

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