A spellbinding meditation on art and life that travels from Eastern Europe to Northern Australia, from World War II to the present.
Elegiac and seductive, Belomor is the frontier where truth and invention meet—where fragments from distant lives intermingle, and cohere.
A man seeks out the father figure who shaped his picture of the past. A painter seeks redemption after the disasters of his years in northern Australia. A student of history travels into the depths of religion, the better to escape the demons in his mind. A filmmaker seeks out freedom and open space, and looks into the murk and sediment of herself.
Four chapters: four journeys through life, separate, yet interwoven as the narrative unfolds.
In this entrancing new book from one of our most original writers, we meet European dissidents from the age of postwar communism, artists in remote Australia, snake hunters, opal miners and desert magic healers. Belomor is a meditation on time, and loss: on how the most bitter recollections bring happiness, and the meaning of a secret rests in the thoughts surrounding it.
Nicolas Rothwell and Sally Warhaft discuss Belomor at Monsalvat
‘Melancholy, singular, exhilarating, Belomor reads like a haunted history of the world.’Delia Falconer
‘Belomor is exhilarating, challenging and draining…The existence of a final page, a final sentence, presupposes some sort of climax, but Belomor would be better suited to looping back and beginning all over again.’Adelaide Advertiser
‘His writing wafts across the consciousness like smoke, so it’s fitting that the title of Rothwell’s book is also a Russian cigarette.’Qantas magazine
‘Rothwell’s writing resists easy description. He roams the borderlands between memoir and fiction and insinuates himself into gaps between time and place…His prose is lush and often beautiful.’Weekend Australian
‘At a time when writers and publishers shy away from the obscure and the oblique, Rothwell’s ambition and the intricacy of his book must be acknowledged.’Sydney Morning Herald
‘Thoughout these pages, Rothwell proves adept at navigating the cross-currents of European cultural history. Nevertheless, the main emphasis of Belomor falls elsewhere, on the physical, cultural and spiritual complexion of a seemingly very different world: the vast, enigmatic spaces of the north of Australia that Rothwell has traversed for many years. This frequently oblique but almost always compelling book seeks to reconcile those apparently opposed worlds, tracing subtle but significant affinities between Europe’s historically determined self-consciousness and what might be called the Dreamtime.’Saturday Age, Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald
‘A peculiar and bewitching work of Australian literature…a hymn of praise to the north and its inhabitants.’Herald Sun