A haunting and acclaimed novel of thwarted ambition, corruption, murder and family secrets by the author of the acclaimed bestseller The Rose Grower.
Murder, moonlight, the jungle crowding close…
The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, decay and corruption, this sinuous, subtle, surprising novel is a masterly evocation of time and place, of colonialism and the backwash of empire. It is the story of an embittered Ceylonese lawyer, Sam Obeysekere himself a product of empire – ‘obey’ by name and by nature – and of a family that once had wealth and influence but starts to crack open when Sam’s charismatic father dies leaving gambling debts, an ex-beauty of a wife, an unstable daughter and an inadequate son.
But the writing has been on the wall for a generation, ever since another sibling died in his cot. And at the heart of the novel is The Hamilton Case, a ‘White Mischief’ murder scandal that shakes the upper echelons of the island’s society. Sam’s involvement in it makes his name but paradoxically ensures that he will never achieve his ambition. A miracle of delicacy and restraint, full of volte faces, and narrated with perfect pitch in a voice that catches both the tragedy and comedy of their situation, this is a gripping, nuanced tale of the end of an era, suffused with ‘the unbearable thought that everything might have turned out differently’.
Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was 14. Educated in Melbourne and Paris, Michelle has worked as a university tutor, an editor and a book reviewer. She is the author of The Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case, which won the Commonwealth Prize (SE Asia and Pacific region) and the UK Encore Prize, and The Lost Dog, which was widely praised by writers such as AS Byatt, Hilary Mantel and William Boyd and won a swag of awards, including: the 2008 NSW Premier's Book of the Year Award and the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and the 2008 ALS Gold Medal. The Lost Dog was also shortlisted for the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, the Western Australian Premier's Australia-Asia Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Asia-Pacific Region) and Orange Prize's Shadow Youth Panel. It was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Questions of Travel was the winner of the 2013 Miles Franklin Award, the Prime Ministers Literary Award for Fiction and the Western Australian Premier's Prize and Award for Fiction.