The Source of the Sound
Winner of The Walter Scott Prize 2010
The Source of the Sound traces the journeys of exiles in search of home, through the terrestrial infernos and purgatories of Supermodernity. In almost every story there is some elemental contact with light and sound: I believe this is the product of the characters’ longing for simple, uncorrupted signs that would render life in the 21st C meaningful and justified. ‘The City Lost to Heaven’ revives the medieval miracle play in the unlikely setting of Beijing, pitting the quiet of winter snow and whispering traditions against the noise of progress. ‘Integrity’ imagines an obscure, unloved place on a western Queensland plain, that by Providence or otherwise, is protected by the play of light and shadow on the landscape, and which, unlike history-snubbing non-places, possesses a memory.
The collection is littered with the mise en scene of lostness: motel rooms, alcohol abuse, prostitution… ‘Music for Airports’ is the tale of three journeys: of a disoriented diplomat, a man he might have saved from the firing squad and a flock of eastern curlew. ‘A Haunted Solitude’ tells of two Croatian soldiers who encounter a gypsy prostitute in wartime Bosnia. ‘The Passenger’ imagines a highway that never ends.