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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Homesickness

by
Murray Bail


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Homesickness



Title: Homesickness
Author: Murray Bail
Genre: Novel
Written: 1980
Length: 317 pages
Availability: Homesickness - US
Homesickness - UK
  • Winner of the The Age Book of the Year, 1980.
  • Winner of the National Book Council Award for Australian Literature, 1980.

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting but highly unusual

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Independent . 20/11/1999 E. Hagestadt/C. Hirst
The NY Times Book Rev. B+ 14/11/1999 John Sutherland

  From the Reviews:
  • "Addressing the experience of many New Worlders who go in search of their roots but come back feeling more rootless than when they set out, his characters roam from continent to continent scanning the travel guides for clues." - Emma Hagestadt and Christopher Hirst, The Independent

  • "Bail is an acquired taste. One has, in a sense, to learn how to read him in order to appreciate his fiction. Is he worth the effort ? Yes, he is. Will American readers in large numbers be prepared to invest that effort ? Maybe. Probably not." - John Sutherland, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Murray Bail's first novel, Homesickness, is one of the more unusual tourist fictions one is likely to come across. Following a group of Australians on a package tour the novel visits Africa, London, Quito (Ecuador), New York, and Russia. There is some local colour, but Bail leads his odd little group elsewhere, inventing bizarre and fanciful museums which reveal the tourists as much as the locales.
       The humour veers between the wry and the absurd, and there is always an edge to it. Bail is not cruel to his characters, but he does put them on display and it is a motley group of representative Australians -- though they are of that mysterious international genus, tourist. Bail does not avoid the political, though this and the novel's other Australian foci might prove annoying, at times, to readers unfamiliar with his concerns. The plot is fairly thin, though Bail fleshes out his scenes enough to make for entertainment. The museums -- and a visit to Lenin's tomb -- are a great deal of fun, but do not quite a novel make. Bail writes well, though his style is not always fluid. Like all his works, this book requires some concentration.
       We enjoyed Homesickness, though it is a fairly dense book. We recommend it, with the understanding that it is not light entertainment about foreign lands -- indeed, it is very much unlike any travel book (and worthy, in part, for that reason alone).

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Links:

Homesickness: Reviews: Murray Bail: Other books by Murray Bail under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Australian literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Australian author Murray Bail was born in Adelaide in 1941. Winner of the Australian National Book Award (for Homesickness).

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© 1999-2013 the complete review

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