To the Islands by Randolph Stow

Patrick White won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1957 for Voss. A year later Randolph Stow won the award for To the Islands. He was 22-years-old and had already published two novels, A Haunted Land (1956) and The Bystander (1957) and a collection of award-winning poems.

As his earlier work on an Aboriginal mission informed the award-winning To the Islands, PNG left an indelible mark on Randolph Stow and was the basis for Visitants, although the novel was not published until 20 years after his return to Australia.

Joan O’Hagan was born in Australia, studied Latin, Greek and ancient history at university in New Zealand, and lived and worked overseas for the best part of her life – including 30 years in Rome, where she worked at the Australian Department of Immigration.

Vu Tran’s debut novel, Dragonfish, opens with a letter from a mother to her daughter, with whom she has lost contact. She recounts the first night of their escape from communist Vietnam, in a small, overcrowded boat, soon to be wracked by ‘thirst and hunger, sickness [and] death’.

Portland Jones’ debut novel is set in 1962, when a small contingent of Australian soldiers, the Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV), was sent to Vietnam under the leadership of the CIA, to train South Vietnamese soldiers and villagers to fight the North Vietnamese Communists and Viet Cong insurgents.

Chasca Broderick has rushed home from her work with the War Crimes Tribunal in Sarajevo in 1998 to attend her grandfather’s funeral. Theodore Broderick had been a lawyer, an eminent legal academic, an adviser to presidents, a Supreme Court Justice, and a defence attorney at the Nuremberg Trials.

In the summer of 1952, Kip and his older brother, Tommy, find the entrance to a cave hidden in the hills above the family farm in the central north of Tasmania. It is now 2002 and middle-aged Kip has returned to the Mole Creek cave, from where 50 years ago he ran back to the farm without Tommy.

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