On The Red Highway and its themes

Excerpt from an interview in the magazine Australian Aboriginal Art, June 2009

Darwin-based author and arts writer Nicolas Rothwell is particularly known for his interest in Australian Indigenous art and culture. His fourth book, The Red Highway, follows Rothwell’s mystical and sometimes fictional journey through northern Australia, a beautiful place strangely unfamiliar to most Australians. He travels from Darwin’s beaches to deep into the Kimberley, encountering along the way a variety of local people – from an aging priest and a cattle station “queen” to artists and art centre managers. While exploring deserted coastlines, hidden towns and the vast landscapes, Rothwell discovers how both ancient and modern Australia connect to the landscape – and to himself. Continue reading » » »

Out of the rubble

By Nicolas Rothwell in The Australian‘s Literary Review, February 3rd 2010

Exile and totalitarianism haunt the redemptive fiction of Nobel laureate Herta Mueller

THE announcement of the newest Nobel laureate for literature, Romanian-born German author, Herta Mueller, was, as always, a ritual media event, with the individual merits of the winner artfully tied to a broader context. October 2009, precisely 20 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall: an eastern European winner to bring back that hectic time. An emblematic choice; emblematic, though, of what? The eastern half of the now reunified continent? Romania itself, and the culture of the country in communist days? Or writing from Germany, and the way it has for so long been so painfully interwoven with the twists and turns of nationalist politics?

Mueller is an uneasy emblem of anything beyond herself and her own world of words, despite the valiant attempts of many authorities to classify her, before and after her abrupt entry into the pantheon of international literary renown. Her books, which have been cursorily inspected in the weeks since her elevation by various foreign critics concerned to judge the Nobel judges, offer scant grounds for assigning her a new, symbolic role. As for her public place in the various societies to which she has been attached, by birth, residence, formation and migration, it was, until now, quite marginal.

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