By Tim Winton
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374116347, 224pp.
Publication Date: May 27, 2008
Tim Winton is Australia’s best-loved novelist. His new work,Breath, is an extraordinary evocation of an adolescence spent resisting complacency, testing one’s limits against nature, finding like-minded souls, and discovering just how far one breath will take you. It’s a story of extremes—extreme sports and extreme emotions. On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrillseeking and barely adolescent boys fall into the enigmatic thrall of veteran big-wave surfer Sando. Together they form an odd but elite trio. The grown man initiates the boys into a kind of Spartan ethos, a regimen of risk and challenge, where they test themselves in storm swells on remote and shark-infested reefs, pushing each other to the edges of endurance, courage, and sanity. But where is all this heading? Why is their mentor’s past such forbidden territory? And what can explain his American wife’s peculiar behavior? Venturing beyond all limits—in relationships, in physical challenge, and in sexual behavior—there is a point where oblivion is the only outcome. Full of Winton’s lyrical genius for conveying physical sensation, Breath is a rich and atmospheric coming-of-age tale from one of world literature’s finest storytellers.
“Breath is a coming-of-age novel written with Tim Winton’s customary tenderness and vivid sense of place and psychological truth. He manages to portray brilliantly made characters against a mythic landscape, thus creating a narrative that is gripping and breath-taking both in its vast scope and in its use of emotional detail. This is his most forceful and perfect novel to date.” —Colm Toibin, author of The Master "The book's main characters jump off the page ... And, as in previous Winton novels, the prose is always astonishing, the descriptions of sea and weather especially vivid....In the end, the book seems as simple, and as vital, as the act of breathing itself." —Adam Woog, The Seattle Times