7.8.09

somewhere else


When I returned home quite late last night after a dinner party, there was an email from a Lisbon based publishing house complimenting me on Luca Antara, the book, and inquiring very politely as to who they should speak to regarding a possible Portuguese edition? There's no way of saying this without sounding like a ninny but the fact is, I was so moved that I wept. Luca Antara is written in homage to the great Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa; and it also seeks to imagine specific ways in which the early Portuguese presence in Australian history might be made manifest. So an expression of interest from the most prestigious, and also one of the oldest, publishing houses in Portugal felt like a mark of honour in itself; and a kind of validation of a book that already has a curious history. Conceived as a book about Australia, it was written mostly in New Zealand; only the last section, which is set in Malaysia and Indonesia, was written here, at Pearl Beach, on automatic pilot while I was in the midst of a very difficult relationship break-up. When it was published, by East Street Publications (ESP) in November 2006, most Australian reviewers were puzzled by it: an interesting if not entirely comprehensible work; but the reviewer in the Sydney Morning Herald detested it and wrote one of those pieces that are designed to kill a book stone dead. Sales have never been good here and The Supply Party, which came out only six months ago, has already sold twice as many copies as Luca. But ESP sold it on to English publishers Oldcastle Books, who put it between new and better covers and brought it out in hardback (2008), then in paperback (2009). English and American reviewers, like NZ reviewers before them, have not had any difficulty in working out what kind of book it is and most of them have given it what I believe to be its due. Meanwhile, in Australia itself, despite its low profile, I keep coming across people who have read and loved it - from the father-in-law of the woman who works behind the counter at a local 2nd hand store to the the Head of Journalism at a major university. Somehow the possibility of a Portuguese edition, which of course may not occur, seems like a homecoming to what was always conceived of as a homeless book. I don't know if any reviewer has pointed this out yet but, with one exception (guess who), every other Australian character who appears in Luca Antara - myself included - is from somewhere else.


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5 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Bravo. Great news. I can understand your tears.

As for the reviewer, I can't possibly guess, but I'm curious. I hope someone else has a stab at it, or maybe in time you'll tell us.

Martin Edmond said...

Thanks, Lis ... but no, what I meant is that there's one character in the book who is not from somewhere else.

Larry Buttrose said...

Fab news Martin, and entirely apposite!
-L
PS: Did you look at that McGlashan video link...

Martin Edmond said...

Yes I did have a look at it Larry - good song, good video. He was in a comedy / musical group called Front Lawn that made some classy short films and later on a group called The Muttonbirds ...

Michael Steven said...

Martin,

Fantastico!

Good man.