Today is From the Wreck’s first official day of life. I’ve already seen it out in the wild – at Melbourne bookshops Paperback Bookstore, Readings in Carlton, Hill of Content and Dymocks on Collins Street – and I’ve heard rumours of it from Better Read than Dead in Sydney and Avid Reader in Brisbane. It’s in the Amazon Kindle store and online at Booktopia, Fishpond and from the publisher, Transit Lounge. Or you could try to win a copy on Goodreads.
I should be used to this by now. I’m not. I’m finding it pretty hard to think about anything other than my book being out there in the world, and what will people think of it, and will it make any sense to them at all. What about people who liked my other books: are they going to be disappointed by this one? It doesn’t have as many jokes…
It was so heartening to read this review from Newtown Review of Books. Linda Godfrey, the reviewer, has understood all the things I was trying to say, which is kind of amazing given I disguised them in a story about a shipwreck and an interstellar octopus, and that some of them were buried very, very deep. It feels incredible to have someone read your work so closely and so kindly.
There have also been some other early reviews. Robin Elizabeth at Write or Wrong reckons it’s the best book she’s read since Patrick Susskind’s Perfume, which is a massive compliment and makes me wonder if a copy of From the Wreck will one day be pressed upon an unsuspecting backpacker in a Kathmandu hostel, along with an offer of a massage. One can only hope.
Lisa at ANZ Lit Lovers was kept awake thinking about the book, so take that as a warning (this isn’t the first time I’ve interrupted her sleep and I probably owe her a sedative glass or two of wine in compensation).
And Books & Publishing wrote a review that you can only see if you’re a subscriber, so I’ll sneakily paste it here:
In 1859, the steamship Admella sunk off the coast of South Australia. Among the few lucky survivors was sailor George Hills and a mysterious woman who vanished upon her rescue. These are facts of history, but Jane Rawson’s novel From the Wreck follows George home to colonial Port Adelaide. Travelling with him is the woman—a lonely shape-shifter from another dimension who binds herself invisibly to George and his son Henry, a peculiar boy who collects skeletons and sees strange visions of a world made of water and devoid of time. Rawson’s previous work, the 2015 novella Formaldehyde, demonstrated her astonishing ability to take seemingly dissonant ideas and have them make perfect, exquisite sense. On the surface, From The Wreck’s alternating perspectives of a PTSD-ridden sailor, a peculiar young boy and an alien cephalopod sounds farcical, but Rawson’s clear, lyrical prose—with its deep undercurrent of empathy—creates a breathtaking and revelatory reading experience. From The Wreck borrows from science-fiction, history and magical realism, forming a whole that is utterly unique and distinctly Australian. While Briohny Doyle’s The Island Will Sink pushed harder on its sci-fi elements, readers of the former will appreciate Rawson’s more lyrical, magical addition to the new groundswell of stellar Australian literary science-fiction. This is a masterpiece.
I should probably go celebrate the public birth of my book with a cocktail, but instead I’m going to the dentist. Wish me luck.