Anticipating the arrival of his wife and child in Ireland, Fred Scully is devastated when his little girl appears alone at the airport. She carries no note, and offers no explanation for her mother's absence. As father and daughter frantically search Europe for the woman who has mysteriously abandoned them, Tim Winton paints a searing portrait of how one love destroys a man--and another saves him. "Satisfies on every level".--The Washington Post Book World.
Tim Winton was born in 1960 in Perth, Western Australia, where he grew up amid
a landscape to which he is still inextricably tied: the untouched white beaches, the
gray-blue range of hills. He says, "You can never free yourself from the landscape; the
minute you turn away, it starts reaching for your imagination again. It's often said that
people make God in their own image and likeness. They forget the way that God is
camouflaged against the environment. Wherever incarnated, God is also hidden."
All his adult life he was told he was European, but when he traveled to Europe
for the first time he understood that he is not, that in reality, he is Australian. "The
landscape where my grandparents and my parents and I had grown up had
changed us from whatever the people in my family were when they first got to
these shores....Whatever they were like then, isn't who we are now. The land has
"Right from the start I was aware of my own strange geographic isolation.
Western Australia is a huge and remote region, a long way from the cultural and
publishing centers of Australia, not to mention Europe and the U.S.A. I was twenty
years younger than most people publishing books, and this fact, along with where
I lived, made me something of an oddity. In my twenties I found myself writing
books while helping to raise three children and somehow I survived both
experiences without leaving my own region."
The Riders is about Scully, a man dislocated from his native land of Australia.
Its genesis came from a period at the end of the 1980s where, granted a
scholarship by a private Australian foundation, Winton and his family lived for a
long time in Paris, then in the Irmah Midland, and finally on the Greek island of
Hydra in the Saronic Gulf. "My wife did not disappear and I didn't undergo the
kind of ordeal that I grimly put mycharacter through," he says. He remembers
though, leaving the manuscript of another novel on a bus in Rome, and worse,
helping his wife suture his son's scalp where a dog had mauled him in Greece.
Young Winton was first attracted to writing through the stories from his church.
"It's narrative nature appealed to me instantly," he says. "I think that was
probably my education in a way." In addition, he read voraciously books from the
town library where his mother took him once or twice a week, and from a beach
house which had one room wall to ceiling with books.
Winton knew from an early age that he would be a writer. "I guess I decided
to be a writer at age ten. Until then, I wanted to be a cop, like my father, but I
think I saw what a hard and joyless life that could be, so I went for what I
imagined to be a softer option. I was very clear and dogmatic about it," he says.
"I can still remember insisting that I would be a writer and arguing about it with
a teacher who wouldn't take it seriously. For some reason, I was possessed of this
focus." He wrote stories and poems and drew pictures, most likely, he says, to
adorn his world. "In a lot of ways I was compensating for the plainness of my
culture," he says. "The absence of color in both my church and culture seems like
a gift in retrospect, rather than a handicap."
By the age of sixteen, he was submitting stories and poems to magazines. He
says, "I had all the walls and half the ceiling papered with rejection slips from
magazines in the shed I lived in at the back of my parents place. But sooner or
later I got good enough." Which was certainly true -- during his late teens he
began to be published in national magazines. By the time Winton was nineteen
years old he wrote and published his first novel, An Open Swimmer which won
the Australian/Vogel National Literary Award. The money from thishelped to
begin life as a professional writer. He did attend university for four years,
describing himself as a hopeless student, but nonetheless managed to write two
novels and numerous stories during that time.
Winton quickly became a sophisticated writer with a great following -- a rarity
in Australia. That Eye, The Sky has become one of Winton's most popular books.
He has twice won the Miles Franklin Award, Australia's most prestigious literary
award, for Shallows (1984) and Cloudstreet (1991). In addition, much of
Winton's work has been adapted for stage and film.
Tim Winton lives with his wife and children in Western Australia, where he
grew up, and where he continues to write. He remarks on his profession "It is an
odd business -- sitting in a room writing about people who don't exist for people
I may never meet. It's wonderful to communicate with strangers this way, from
an isolated coast s