The Book of Science and Antiquities
By Thomas Keneally
By the Booker Prize-winning author of Schindler's Ark, a bold, millennia-spanning novel about community, mortality, and what it means to be human.
In a novel of breathtaking reach and inspired imagination, one of Australia's greatest writers tells the stories of two men who have much in common. What separates them is 42,000 years.
Shade lives with his second wife amid their clan on the shores of a bountiful lake. A peaceable man, he knows that when danger threatens, the Hero ancestors will call on him to kill, or sacrifice himself, to save his people.
Over 40,000 years later, Shade's remains are unearthed near the now dry Lake Learned in New South Wales. The sensational discovery fascinates Shelby Apple, a documentary film maker who tracks the controversies it provokes about who the continent's first inhabitants were and where Shade's bones belong.
To Shelby, who will follow his own heroes to the battlefields of Eritrea and the Rift Valley where Homo Sapiens originated, Shade is a messenger from an ancient culture that lived in harmony with the land. And when mortality looms, he becomes a symbol of enduring life.
Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published thirty-one novels since. They include Schindler's Ark, which won the Booker Prize in 1982 and was subsequently made into the film Schindler's List, and The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates and Gossip From The Forest, each of which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His most recent novels are The Daughters Of Mars, which was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize in 2013, and Shame and the Captives. He has also written several works of non-fiction, including his memoir Homebush Boy, Searching for Schindler and Australians. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney.
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- Publication date:
01 Nov 2018
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Learned's voice is a wonderful creation: modern, compassionate and filled with moral authority . . . Both perspectives in The Book of Science and Antiquities will fascinate Keneally's dedicated followers who have come to expect daring narratives dealing with themes of family, morality and moral responsibility. — Australian Bookseller
[An] impressive sketch of ghostly affinities between a man who makes images at once artistic and real out of the life he records and shapes, and another who conjures and kills and wills himself on the tightrope of justice and mercy in a time that Keneally is very adept at animating . . . [it is] vibrant with a spectral presence of descending birds and whisperings from congruent worlds . . . It leaps to Africa, it resounds with the shadow-world of ancient Australia, it can evoke a background of the Inuit, of any damn thing pertinent to the purposes of a master craftsman who has no intention of taking anything lying down. — The Saturday Paper, Australia
PRAISE FOR THOMAS KENEALLY'S WRITING: 'He weaves his magic and the reader falls under his spell.' — Guardian
[Keneally] looks into the heart of the human condition with a piercing intelligence that few can match. — Sunday Telegraph
Whatever country I have had the good fortune to visit as a writer I can honestly say that there is one Australian writer they know and rate as world class - one - and it is always Thomas Keneally. — Richard Flanagan
Keneally's gift, and his blessing to the many hundreds of characters he has created, is always to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. Each of them rises out of and above their varying backgrounds: the class, religion, ambition that mark but do not define them. — The Australian
Few can match Keneally as a storyteller. — Guardian (Australia)