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Brian Castro

Brian Castro

Brian Castro is the author of the prize-winning Australian classic Shanghai Dancing, and recipient of the 2014 Patrick White Literary Award. His novels include The Garden Book and The Bath Fugues, both shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and Street to Street, loosely based on the life of the poet Christopher Brennan. His most recent work, a verse novel titled Blindness and Rage, won the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry and the Mascara Avant-garde Award for Fiction. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Adelaide University.

Website: briancastro.com.au

…one of the most exacting, yet rewarding of Australian novelists, and when the mood is on him, one of the most amusing as well.

Peter Pierce, The Age

Titles

Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria

A Novel in Thirty-Four Cantos

Brian Castro

224 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published April 2017
ISBN 9781925336290

Suffering from a fatal disease, Lucien Gracq travels to Paris to complete the epic poem he is writing and live out his last days. There he joins a secret writers’ society that guarantees to publish the work of its members anonymously, relieving them of the burdens of life and the disappointments of authorship. Blindness and Rage recalls Virgil and Dante in its descent into the underworld of writing. Always an innovator, in Blindness and Rage Castro again throws down a challenge to the limits of the novel form.

Street to Street

Brian Castro

160 pages
Paperback, 17 x 15 cm
Published October 2012
ISBN 9781920882952

Street to Street is one of Brian Castro’s best books yet, a comic-tragic enactment of the anxieties of the writing life, in which the early twentieth-century Sydney poet Christopher Brennan plays a major role. A legendary figure, with a commanding knowledge of classical and European poetry, Brennan wrote some of the most powerful poems in Australian literature. He died an impoverished alcoholic at the age of sixty-one. Castro’s double portrait of the poet and his biographer, the writer-academic Brendan Costa, plays on the disappointment, the guilt, the lack of recognition, which troubles those who live by their imaginations. The novella is the perfect form for Castro’s purpose, its compression heightening the wit and energy of his prose, and his remarkable feel for the embarrassments of character.

The Bath Fugues

Brian Castro

374 pages
Paperback, 21 x 15 cm
Published May 2009
ISBN 9781920882556

The Bath Fugues is Castro at his best, in a wonderful performance wrought from intrigue, romance, deception – and comedy. The book is composed of three interwoven novellas, the first centred on an ageing art forger; the second on a Portuguese poet, opium addict and collector; the third told by a well-connected doctor, with a cabinet of venom, and an art gallery on the north Queensland coast.

The Garden Book

Brian Castro

324 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published August 2005
ISBN 1920882103

The Garden Book is set in the Dandenong Ranges in the years between the Depression and the Second World War.

The story revolves around Swan Hay, born Shuang He, daughter of a country schoolteacher, her marriage to the passionate and brutal Darcy Damon, and her love affair with the aviator and architect Jasper Zenlin. Fifty years after her disappearance, Norman Shih, a rare book librarian, pieces together Swan’s chaotic life from clues found in guest house libraries, antiquarian bookshops and her own elusive writings. But what exactly is his relationship to her?

Shanghai Dancing

Brian Castro

464 pages
Paperback, 23.4 x 15.3 cm
Published June 2003
ISBN 0957831188

Shanghai Dancing is the most highly regarded and popular novel by award-winning Australian author Brian Castro. In it, his fictional persona Antonio Castro faces dispossession in Australia after the death of his parents. In an attempt to recover something of the inheritance that has been denied him, he brings his parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and their tangled relationships, back to life, by recounting their stories and by rediscovering, in the photographs and documents and secrets which they left behind, the defections and betrayals which have led to his own disinheritance.

Videos

‘Q & A with novelist Brian Castro’, 2009. Castro speaks about writing and Shanghai Dancing. Produced by Kaya Press.

‘The Wordshed – Brian Castro, Writing in fragments’, 2008. Produced by the Johanna Featherstone and the Red Room Company on behalf of the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney.

Awards

2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry

2014 Patrick White Award for Literature

2006 Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction

2004 NSW Premier’s Award for Fiction

2003 Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction (Vance Palmer Prize)

1997 National Book Council ‘Banjo’ Prize for Fiction

1993 Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction (Vance Palmer Prize)

1992 Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction (Vance Palmer Prize)+Victorian Premier’s Award for Innovative Writing

1991 The Age Fiction Prize

1982 Vogel Literary Award

Selected Writing

‘Seminal Retention’, in Antipodean China, Giramondo, 2021.

Blindness and Deafness in Literary Reception’, Sydney Review of Books, 10 July 2018.

Literature and Fashion’, Sydney Review of Books, 23 April 2013.

‘My Nervous Illness’, Without a Paddle: HEAT 21, 2009.

‘The Pillow Book’, HEAT 11, 1999.

‘Nightsafe Area’, a monologue, HEAT 3, 1997.

Criticism

Bernadette Brennan, Brian Castro’s Fiction: The Seductive Play of Language, Cambria Press, 2008.

Sneja Gunew, Post-Multicultural Writers as Neo-cosmopolitan Mediators, Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture, 2017.

Arianna Dagnino, ‘Castro, the Other, and the Complexity of Belonging’, Transcultural Writers and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility, Purdue University Press, 2015.

Peter Pierce, ‘‘Things are Cast Adrift’: Brian Castro’s Fiction.Australian Literary Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, 1995.

Interviews

Working With Words: Brian Castro’, Wheeler Centre interview, 2019.

The Compuslive Reader, interview with Magdelena Ball, 2013.

‘Grammars of Creation’, interview with Marilyne Brun in The Journal of the European Association of Studies on Australia, Vol.2. No.1, 2011.

The Book Show, ‘Brian Castro’s The Bath Fugues’, interview with Ramona Koval for ABC Radio, 2009.

 

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