- Published 1 October 2016
- ISBN: 9781925183399
- ISBN ePUB: 9781925384987
- Format: Paperback
- Extent: 277pp
- AU: $29.99
- Categories: Contemporary fiction
The Better Son
Longlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2017 in Fiction
1952. Tasmania. The green, rolling hills of the dairy town Mole Creek have a dark underside — a labyrinthine underworld of tunnels that stretch for countless miles, caverns the size of cathedrals and underground rivers that flood after heavy rain. The caves are dangerous places, forbidden to children. But this is Tasmania — an island at the end of the earth. Here, rules are made to be broken.
For two young brothers, a hidden cave a short walk from the family farm seems the perfect escape from their abusive, shell-shocked father — until the older brother goes missing. Fearful of his father, nine-year-old Kip lies about what happened. It is a decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Fifty years later, Kip — now an award-winning scientist — has a young son of his own, but cannot look at him without seeing his lost brother, Tommy. On a mission of atonement, he returns to the cave they called Kubla to discover if it’s ever too late to set things right. To have a second chance. To be the father he never had.
The Better Son is a richly imaginative and universal story about the danger of secrets, the beauty in forgiveness and the enthralling power of Tasmania’s unique natural landscapes.
WINNER - The University of Tasmania Prize (Tasmanian Literary Awards 2013)
WINNER - People’s Choice Award for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Writer (Tasmanian Literary Awards 2013)
WINNER - The Varuna HarperCollins Manuscript Development Award 2013
PRAISE FOR THE BETTER SON
'The Better Son maps an emotional landscape as shifting and precarious as the limestone country so splendidly evoked here. Katherine Johnson is a sure-footed guide to lives hollowed out by secrets that reach deep into the past. And how intimately she understands the world of childhood: its passionate attachments, its wonders and its griefs.' Michelle de Kretser, winner Miles Franklin Literary Award 2013
'A gripping story of loss, trauma and the devastating impact of family secrets, The Better Son is a literary thriller that haunts the reader well beyond its final page' Rachel Power, author of Creativity and Motherhood: The Divided Heart
'A fabulous read: moving, haunting, at times devastating, redemptive, and so evocative of the Mole Creek area' Vern Field, editor of Island Magazine
'Fans of Alex Miller and Michelle de Kretser will enjoy this deep and imaginative story with nuanced and relatable characterisation' Hannah Cartmel, Books + Publishing
'The Better Son contains many beautiful images, and explores the emotional legacy of parental abuse' '...an Australian writer to watch' Annie Condon, Readings
'Quintessentially Australian, featuring a complex family drama fraught with secrets and lies and told within a evocative and dangerous landscape.' Debbish Dotcom
'A tightly woven exploration of relationships, secrets and regrets with an undercurrent of self-sacrifice and the tiniest slivers of hope, set against the dramatic and deadly landscape of Tasmania’s mountain regions.' The Bookshelf Gargoyle
‘As well as the sharply drawn characters, the brooding Tasmanian wilderness is a powerful character on its own and is well woven into the compelling storyline. Sue Wallace, Weekly Times Melbourne
‘The Better Son not only plumbs the depths of human sadness, loss and anger, but it explores the vast beauty of this karst system.’ Rachel Edwards, Warp Magazine
‘ ...is a dark mystery that explores the power of secrets, guilt and regret on a family and the Tasmanian setting is unforgettable.’ Carpe Librum
‘A beautifully written novel that I found both confronting and disturbing, as well as very moving’. Paula Sward, RACT Journeys Magazine