Published: 1 October 2019
ISBN ePUB: 978-1-920727-32-1
Categories: Historical fiction, literary fiction
Also available as an ebook from Kobo, Apple or Amazon Kindle
Katherine Johnson is the author of three previous novels: Pescador’s Wake (Fourth Estate, 2009), The Better Son (Ventura Press, 2016) and Matryoshka (Ventura Press, 2018). Her manuscripts have won Varuna Awards and Tasmanian Premier's Literary Prizes. The Better Son was longlisted for both the Indie Book Awards and the Tasmania Book Prize. Katherine holds both arts and science degrees, has worked as a science journalist, and published feature articles for magazines including Good Weekend. Katherine lives in Tasmania with her husband and two children. She recently completed a PhD, which forms the basis of her latest novel, Paris Savages.
Fraser Island, 1882. The population of the Badtjala people is in sharp decline following a run of brutal massacres. When German scientist Louis Müller offers to sail three Badtjala people – Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera – to Europe to perform to huge crowds, the proud and headstrong Bonny agrees, hoping to bring his people’s plight to the Queen of England.
Accompanied by Müllers bright, grieving daughter, Hilda, the group begins their journey to belle-époque Europe to perform in Hamburg, Berlin, Paris and eventually London. While crowds in Europe are enthusiastic to see the unique dances, singing, fights and pole climbing from the oldest culture in the world, the attention is relentless, and the fascination of scientists intrusive. When disaster strikes, Bonny must find a way to return home.
A story of love, bravery, culture, and the fight against injustice, Paris Savages brings a little-known part of history to blazing life, from award-winning novelist Katherine Johnson.
Praise for Paris Savages
‘A masterful work; fully realised and richly embroidered. Johnson is a novelist of ferocious elegance and unusual sensitivity.’
‘This is a feat of imagination cast back in time and across the seas: first to K’Gari (Fraser Island) in the 1880s, transport by ship across the Pacific, then belle-èpoque Europe; into the mind of German girl Hilda, and her account of three Badtjala travellers, all of them seeking location in a place far from home.
It is a story of sympathies and slippages, showing and telling, transport and transformation. Johnson’s delicacy of comprehension and tenderness of motive offer a way past simplistic moralising into a human understanding of good intentions and intentional injury, the dignity of survival and the persistence of history. It’s a vivid, thoughtful telling of a tale little known and deeply affecting.’
‘The silencing that Badtjala people continue to endure in the localised historiography of place is ongoing. This story has its genesis in fact when three Fraser Island people were taken to Germany in 1882–83. The sole survivor was Bonangera (Boni/Bonny) whose life size plaster cast remains at the Musée des Confluences Lyon, France.’
DR FIONA FOLEY, BADTJALA ARTIST AND ACADEMIC
‘Gripping and powerful. Paris Savages is an intimate journey into the late 19th century pseudo-science of race, and the immensely moving courage of the indigenous performers who toured Europe.’
DR PETER COCHRANE, NOVELIST AND WINNER OF PRIME MINISTER’S PRIZE FOR AUSTRALIAN HISTORY
‘For me, a measure of a novel’s strength and excellence is how indelibly, in a rich and complex way, one or more characters have imprinted themselves on my memory. I will remember and reflect on Bonny, Dorondera, Jurano, Herr Müller, and Hilda well into the future… I foresee this novel joining the works of Richard Flanagan, Kate Grenville, and David Malouf on my own Australian literature bookshelf.’
RICHARD LEMM, AUTHOR AND PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
‘[this story is] of major significance if global communities are to embrace racial, ethnic and cultural respect. It is imperative that the horrors of the past — in this instance, racial stereotyping exemplified in ‘human zoos’ — be exposed for what they were. Katherine Johnson has undertaken such an exposure.’
GARY CREW, AUTHOR AND PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF THE SUNSHINE COAST
OTHER TITLES BY KATHERINE JOHNSON
PRAISE FOR The OTHER 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.'
MICHELLE DE KRETSER, Miles Franklin Literary Award winner
'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.'
BOOKS + PUBLISHING
‘This book will work for readers across generations. Johnson writes of childhood and crystalline recognition of what it is like to be young and coexist with a sibling, the exquisite juxtaposition of love and hate that can come in the single breath.’
‘An Australian writer to watch.’
‘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.’
WEEKLY TIMES MELBOURNE
PRAISE FOR MATRYOSHKA
‘A moving reflection on love, motherhood and belonging. Katherine Johnson beautifully shows what it means to be part of a community – and part of a family.’
ANNA SPARGO-RYAN, AUTHOR OF THE GULF
‘Through the lives of the diverse people who inhabit this small Tasmanian community ... Johnson shows us the worst and the best of ourselves.’
MAGGIE JOEL, AUTHOR OF THE SECOND-LAST WOMAN IN ENGLAND
‘At it’s heart, it is also a poignant exploration of our stumbling efforts to seek solace in the world and the ways in which we attempt to overcome dislocation… a fascinating and authentic meditation on the long shadows cast by loss.’
ALICE NELSON, AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW
‘It’s written in a way that I like to term ‘quiet’: quietly beautiful, quietly atmospheric, quietly powerful, and quietly unforgettable… Forgiveness and love underpin this story, flowing outwards from a beautifully intelligent narrative that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Highly recommended.’
THERESA SMITH WRITES