TIM WINTON IS arguably Australia’s most widely read contemporary novelist. His books have been translated into eighteen languages, adapted for television, stage and film, and won him Australia’s most prestigious literary award – the Miles Franklin Award – four times. In 2013, Winton published his eleventh novel, Eyrie (Penguin, 2013). The book follows Tom Keely, a man who spends his days alone in a stuffy flat of a tan-brick apartment block in the middle of Fremantle, unemployed, disgraced, divorced, gradually drinking himself into oblivion. His solitude is disrupted by a meeting with his neighbour, Gemma – a woman he hasn’t seen since she was a little girl from the end of the street, running away from chaos at home. Gemma and her grandson, Kai, force Keely into an entanglement with ugly, difficult things. The book, at once a personal story, is also a harsh reflection of Western Australia during the mining boom and the changes it wrought to the state’s cultural and political priorities. In this interview, from different sides of the world, Winton discusses Eyrie, the importance of Western Australia in his work and the relationship between the popular and the literary in Australian publishing.
In a 2008 article published in the Australian, you said you write from what is at least perceived to be the ‘wrong hemisphere, wrong country, wrong part of the wrong country’. I wonder whether you feel yourself to be a specifically Western Australian writer, if in a sense you write for Western Australians?
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