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Category Archive for 'Tasmania'

Writing one of the must unusual and imaginative books I’ve read in a long time, Tasmania native Richard Flanagan presents a multi-leveled novel which is full of wry, sometimes hilarious, observations about people and history. At the same time, it is a scathing indictment of colonialism’s cruelties and its prison system, in particular. Almost schizophrenic in its approach, the novel jerks the reader back and forth from delighted amusement to horrified revulsion in a series of episodes that clearly parallel the unstable inner life of main character William Buelow Gould, who lives in “a world that demanded reality imitate fiction.” Sentenced to life imprisonment on an island off the coast of Tasmania, Gould cleverly plays the survival game, ingratiating himself with the authorities through his willingness to paint whatever they want–species of fish for the surgeon, fake Constable landscapes for the turnkey Pobjoy, murals for the Commandant’s great Mah-jong Hall, and backdrops for his railroad to nowhere.

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