Archive for the ‘Literary biography’ Category

Minerva’s Owl – Excerpts from Exile

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Niqi Thomas, a young Czech Australian woman, returns with her father to Prague, to visit her ancestral city and to discover her grandfather, who was always ‘present’ in the family, but whom she had never met – Karel Goliath-Gorovsky, the Czech Solzhenitsyn.

For Niqi, it became a journey of self-discovery, through discovery of her grandfather. A rebel from birth, Czech lawyer, Karel Goliath-Gorovsky, was imprisoned in a Soviet gulag north of the Arctic Circle, because of his relentless political idealism. His potent black humour enabled him to survive those seventeen darkest years of his political life, which spanned from the brutal excesses of Stalin to the liberating hope of Dubcek.

His son, abandoned by his father at the age of one, developed his own black humour to survive Mischling status under the Nazi occupation, the Stalinist regime in his homeland, Czechoslovakia, and flight to Australia – his new land of opportunity where some people crossed the street when they saw a ‘wog’ approaching.

This family narrative includes a subversive retake on the biblical Goliath, who appears several times through the book, connecting Goliath-Gorovsky with the biblical character, who paradoxically, was killed by his Hebrew ancestors.

Minerva’s Owl is a literary treatment of national and personal history, which explores the effect of war and displacement upon the exiled individuals and their families. Throughout this book, the continually reinforced image is of the individual standing against the juggernaut of dictatorship and bureaucracy, and resolutely refusing to fear.

A sense of dark laughter – developed as a survival mechanism – in which the choice is to laugh or die, pervades the book. In Goliath-Gorovsky’s own words: “After the tragedy a humoresque. Instead of a conclusion.”

June 2003, 312pp
Non fiction, 1st Edition
Paperback, 216 x 138 mm
ISBN: 0 9578735 6 5
RRP: $aud 24-95
ISBN-13: 9780957873568

The Author With formal qualifications and teaching experience in creative writing at Victorian universities, Niqi Thomas has had several short stories and poems published in literary magazines during the 1990s.

Her works have appeared in New England Review, 8d Anthology of Erotica, Centoria Poetry Magazine, Journal of the Black Rose, Hidden Agenda, STET; Australian Writers and Writing, to name only a few. Niqi lives in Melbourne. Her next book is currently being considered for publication.

Maclay – A Novel

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

In the autumn of 1870, Nikolai Miklouho Maclay, a young marine biologist, left his home in St Petersburg to travel to the remote territory of New Guinea. It was the start of an adventure that was to test his courage and determination and force him to examine the ideals that had inspired his quest for a people not yet spoiled by European civilisation.

A beautifully told adventure story and a fascinating reconstruction of Maclay’s own account of his efforts to survive, the book follows him from his home in Russia into the jungles of New Guinea and the sophisticated Vice-Regal circles of the Dutch East Indies – a journey that would see him mistaken for a god and enshrined as a legend.

Maclay’s great courage and impetuous character inspired much of what has been written about his life and work. He was also a man of great personal charm and integrity, succeeding as well with Papuan warriors as he did with people of the highest rank in government and empire.

In his choice of New Guinea as the primary area for his anthropological studies, Maclay was searching for nothing less than the ‘probable cradle of the human race’. While he did not subscribe to the theory of the ‘noble savage’, Maclay longed to discover, somewhere in the steamy jungles of this racially unique island, an innocence and purity long departed from the ‘civilisation’ of the Europeans.

His hopes and dreams, his triumphs and failures make up this literary account of Maclay’s time in New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies.

Then he knew his best chance. Maclay stood up. “Give me the spear,” he said to Saul, and when Saul slowly passed the weapon to him he took it, weighed it for a moment in his hand, letting the tension build inside the hut until it was nearly unbearable. He turned slowly and offered the spear to Tui. “Let’s see if Maclay can die,” he said.

August 2001,
192pp Paperback, 216 x 138 mm
ISBN 0 9585805 8 8
Literary Biography; 1st Edition
RRP $aud 22-95
ISBN-13 978 0958580586

Includes 2 line maps

The Author, K.H. Rennie is a journalist, scriptwriter, and a technical author. She currently lives in Melbourne with her husband and four children. Fictionalised history is Ms Rennie’s special area of interest. Her research is pitched toward gleaning the personalities of the people who made history, an area not usually considered as important as the outcomes of their actions. In her novels, historical figures are re-introduced as real people, with their unique characters which made them memorable blended into their ordinariness which enables us to get to know them.
Maclay is her first novel.

Barefoot Guerrillas

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

An awakening…two occupied homelands…a young woman’s personal growth.Melati’s journey took her from a cloistered Swiss boarding school to the guerrilla camps of a scorched earth. Her own personal growth from a naive school girl to an independent young woman closely parallels the struggle for independence of her reclaimed homeland.

Harumi Wanasita tells the story of one woman, Melati. She also tells the story of a generation. The Dutch-Indonesian descent people at the time of Indonesia’s declaration of independence were the last generation of their culture. This is their story.

Reflecting the maturing of her character, Harumi varies her writing style as Melati develops. Naive at first for Melati’s wide-eyed innocence, the style is gradually refined as the novel moves through wartime Holland and Melati’s life with the guerrilla fighters in revolutionary Indonesia.

Through all the experiences which make Melati’s story, Harumi retains a language and style reminiscent of an earlier simpler time, when innocence was its own reward.

August 1996
First Edition, Paperback
371pp, 215 x 138 mm
ISBN 0 9587718 5 5
RRP $aud 21.95

The Author
Harumi Wanasita was born in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial period. After education in Europe, she returned to Indonesia during the 1945 – 49 struggle for independence.
Now a widow, Harumi’s former husband was Dr Danudirdjo Setiabuddhi, known before the Indonesian revolution as Dr. E. F. E. Douwes Dekker, who was declared an Indonesian national hero for his support for the nationalist revolution.
Her later husband was the late Major Wayne D. Evans, U.S.A.F.

Harumi has been published in Indonesia, with her works in Dutch and Indonesian appearing during the 1950s. Harumi now lives in San Jose, California. This novel, her first book published in English, is based largely on her own life as a young woman in occupied Holland and revolutionary Indonesia.