With The Sound of One Hand Clapping, which made him one of Australia's most awarded young writers, Richard Flanagan made his acclaimed American debut. Now he gives us an extraordinary, deeply moving novel as big and brawling, as strange and compelling as the land and people it describes. Beneath a waterfall on a remote Tasmanian mountain river, Aljaz Cosini, river guide, is drowning.
Beset by visions at once horrible and fabulous, he relives not just his own life but that of his family and forebears. He sees his father Harry, burying his own father Boy, under a tree that bursts into flowers in midwinter every year after. He sees Boy himself as a young man, working on the river; and his Auntie Ellie, on her way to fetch the doctor for her sick grandchild, chased by a cow she believes is a Werowa spirit. In the rain-forest waters that rush over him he sees those lives stripped of their surface realities, and finds a world where dreaming reasserts its power over thinking, where the branches of his story connect to family stories that are Aboriginal, Celtic, Italian, English, Chinese, and East European; stories that ground him in the land. As the river rises his visions grow more turbulent, and in the flood of the past Aljaz discovers the soul history of his country.
An adventure tale that transforms into a spiritual odyssey, by turns earthy, dreaming, comic, tragic, vulgar, and moving, Death of a River Guide is a beautiful, haunting story by one of the world's most exciting young writers.
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Never got good
- John Dowse