The Lieutenant

Americans have often glorified the "First Encounter" of colonizing Europeans with indigenous people. But for Australians, early encounters between Aboriginals and English settlers remain less celebrated in patriotic ritual and more familiar to modern life. In "The Lieutenant," Australian novelist Kate Grenville employs an historical example to show the difference between using a first encounter for cultural gain and appreciating it for beautiful strangeness.


Grenville was inspired by the life of astronomer and mathematician William Dawes, whose 1788 voyage with the British First Fleet to New South Wales included his documented friendship with a teenaged indigenous Australian girl (he recorded their language lessons in his notebook). Grenville's protagonist Daniel Rooke is both Dawesian and entirely himself, a lower-class introvert whose academic abilities have placed him in a class and world to which he never grows entirely accustomed: "A door opened in a world that had seemed nothing but wall."


When Lt. Rooke meets 15-year-old Tagaran, it is during a rare time in which his eyes are not lifted to the stars. He has recently had cause to ask "What would I have done in the same place?" and Grenville's quiet, elegant style allows that question to remain rhetorical as the man and girl  to connect: "...he recognized his sister in her: Old enough to to want to look into another's eye, one human to another, and still young enough to be fearless." Grenville has written an elegant and elegiac account of recognizing the other and allowing it to remain so.


April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."