Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Atlantic Black' by A.S. Patrić

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Atlantic Black' by A.S. Patrić

Atlantic Black

by A.S. Patrić

Transit Lounge, $29.99 pb, 280 pp, 9780995409828

Writing this review in the first week in November, I look at the calendar and note that we are a few days away from the seventy-ninth anniversary of Kristallnacht, when, over the two days of 9–10 November 1938, at the instigation of Joseph Goebbels, there was a nationwide pogrom against German Jews that saw synagogues, business premises, and private homes ransacked. At least ninety people were killed, perhaps many more. It was a sign of things to come.

A.S. Patrić’s new novel, Atlantic Black, is set – although this isn’t mentioned in the book – about seven weeks after these events, on an ocean liner in the mid-Atlantic on New Year’s Eve of 1938, by which time many people could already see the blackness that 1939 would bring to the world. ‘Anytime I hear that date,’ Patrić said in a recent interview, ‘for me it’s a shorthand for catastrophe, for cataclysm.’  The symbolic structure of this book is simple and strong: characters of mixed nationalities are all at sea, crossing a world on the eve of destruction.

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Published in December 2017, no. 397
Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy won the 2013 Pascall Prize for cultural criticism, and the 2017 Horne Prize for her essay ‘The Limit of the World’. A former Editor of ABR (1986–87), she is one of Australia’s most prolific and respected literary critics. Her publications include several anthologies, a critical study of Helen Garner, and her book Adelaide, which was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. In November 2012 she was named as the inaugural ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellow. Her Fellowship article on reviewing, ‘Everyone’s a Critic’, appeared in the May 2013 issue of ABR.

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