‘I’m the only one left who knows the truth of what happened. If it’s not written down the truth of it will be lost when I die. It was told to me by my grandfather. It was his own father, my own great-grandfather, who did these things and told him of them. No one else is left who knows the truth of it but me.’
After the death of his wife, German academic Max Otto figures his life is close to over. He will say his goodbyes and then he’ll end it. But when he meets Vita McLelland, an academic visiting from Australia, Max finds himself faced with new issues to sort out before he ends his life.
His friendship with Vita takes him to Australia, where he stays in a remote township with Vita’s uncle Dougald Gnapun. Like Max, Dougald has some unfinished business. He needs to tell the story of his great grandfather, and to go back to visit his country. The two men form a strong bond as together they face their pasts and their own limitations.
Landscape of Farewell is a story of reconciliation, between past and present, between young and old and between black and white. Max has often wondered at the history of his own country and especially his father’s involvement in the German army, and finds parallels between his own past and that of Dougald, whose people were involved in a massacre in Australia. In helping Dougald to tell his story. Max becomes more able to confront his own.
Like all of Miller’s work, this is a deeply moving novel which will leave the reader with much to ponder.
Landscape of Farewell, by Alex Miller
Allen & Unwin, 2007
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