Introduced by Alex Miller
Illustrated by Sam Pash
Tim Winton’s celebrated novel is a jubilant and poignant portrait of two native-born, working-class Australian families.
The Pickles and the Lambs: two ‘true blue’ Aussie families with a fragile but defiant grip on the watery edges of their vast, dusty country. Disaster strikes each – for the Pickles a boating accident that leaves a father ‘minus a working hand’, for the Lambs a drowning from which their son Fish emerges alive but not quite intact. With eight children between them, they find themselves sharing Cloudstreet, a dilapidated house in Perth haunted by its own insidious past that only Fish, the book’s narrator, can fathom. There’s the pragmatic matriarch Oriel Lamb with her steadfast principles and love of the Queen; the ruinous beauty Dolly Pickles, hell-bent on alcohol-fuelled affairs; her bright daughter Rose, who watches Fish sing hello to the wind and falls in love; and Rose’s loyal father Sam with his childlike resilience to perpetual misfortune: ‘Everybody loved a loser, especially a loser of such romantic proportions’.
Cloudstreet's intimate story spans 20 years, as the families wrestle with addictions, rancour and love, their undulating laughter and despair underpinned by the rhythms of the great, sighing house, and the rivers and estuaries that they cherish and fear. Once thrown together as casualties of luck, they gradually become a single, sprawling family, reluctantly but deeply attached to their ramshackle home.
‘A fragmented, hilarious, crude, mystical soap opera. In a rich Australian idiom, Winton lets his characters rip against an evocation of Perth so intense you can smell it’
Majestic, humble, lyrical and crude, Cloudstreet won the Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, and regularly tops polls of the country’s best-loved novels. Author Tim Winton has twice been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In this mesmerising portrait of family relationships, he also celebrates a vanishing way of life. In his introduction, the novelist Alex Miller describes Winton’s compelling imagination and his fidelity to the voice of ‘uneducated, native-born, working-class Australians’ – an insular, determined people at once adrift and deeply attached to the land. Sam Pash’s illustrations capture Cloudstreet’s memorable characters and the unique landscape that they inhabit.
‘Cloudstreet is one of the greatest acts of the human imagination of the late twentieth century’
Tim Winton was born in Perth, Western Australia, in 1960. He has written twenty-one books for adults and children. Since his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won The Australian/Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Award four times (for Shallows, 1986; Cloudstreet, 1991; Dirt Music, 2001; and Breath, 2008) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders, 1995; and Dirt Music). Active in the environmental movement in Australia, he has been named a Living Treasure by the National Trust, and awarded the Centenary Medal for services to literature and the community. Winton has lived in Greece, France and Ireland, but is now settled in Western Australia with his family.
Alex Miller is the author of ten novels. He is twice winner of the Miles Franklin Award, for The Ancestor Game (1993) and Journey to the Stone Country (2003), and an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, for The Ancestor Game (1993). Miller is a recipient of the Centenary Medal for services to Australian society and the Manning Clark Medal for an outstanding contribution to Australian culture. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He was born in England and emigrated alone to Australia at the age of sixteen.
Sam Pash was born in 1987 in Auckland, New Zealand, but grew up in the south-west of Western Australia. The influence of the Western Australian landscape is evident in Sam’s work, and his experiences growing up in and around the locations where Cloudstreet is set provided rich material for creating the illustrations. He currently lives in south London.
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