Paradise Earth

Paradise Earth Cover‘A task fraught with dangers: to be an honest and unflinching guide to this most terrible of Australia’s hauntings. Amy Barker reminds me of the young Dostoevsky, how in his novel of a Siberian prison camp he could descend the ladder of humanity step by step because even in the most degraded there must still be the divine spark. Not a safe place for writer or reader—but a novel of blazing and humbling integrity.’ Peter Bishop, writers’ advocate and formerly Creative Director of Varuna, the Writers’ House.

From multi-award-winning author Amy Barker comes a new novel about the courage it takes to heal, set on Tasman Peninsula approaching the 25th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre. Paradise Earth is thrumming with the irrepressible spirit of raw wilderness that propels the individual toward the emergent edge, where empowerment, love and compassion enable the self to transcend its limits, move beyond the past, and create a unique future.

“The aftershocks from 1996 continued, year after year, often in the life of the individual more devastating than the Port Arthur massacre itself. Yet always the subsequent tragedies could be traced back to that unspeakable Sunday.”

Coming home to Tasman Peninsula with her Northern Irish partner, Ruth journeys into her own psychic trauma as well as that projected onto the raw, monumental coast. When Ruth’s brother John helps his fourteen-year-old son apply for a firearm’s permit—almost two and a half decades after Port Arthur—they risk condemning those who do not remember the past to repeat it.

A Port Arthur survivor, Marina has returned to the Peninsula with her brother Moon to pack up Doo-No-Harm, the family holiday home, after the death of their Quaker mother. Marina’s personhood was so violated by her early life experience that she has been left an angry she-wolf about to set out on the hunt. In a convoy of duck rescuers, the siblings head for a confrontation with shooters on the wetland.

In these lives choreographed by trauma, damage and the ramifications of wilful forgetfulness, transformation can only occur after an extremely painful lesson.

Paradise Earth is published by Stormbird Press.

‘In a masterful follow-up to her award-winning debut novel Omega Park, Amy Barker has created a simple and beautiful tapestry of lives lived in the shadow of the unthinkable violence of the Port Arthur Massacre. Set against the backdrop of the Tasman Peninsula’s raw and rugged natural beauty, and its tragic legacy, Paradise Earth recounts a series of separate but interconnecting stories that explore the vicissitudes and fragility of the human condition. The result is both lyrical and provocative.’ Chris Nyst, Gettin’ Square (winner Lexus If Award for Best Screenplay 2003, nominated for AFI Best Screenplay Award 2003), and Crook as Rookwood (winner Ned Kelly Crime Fiction Award 2009).

Learn more about Paradise Earth by listening to Amy’s interview on ABC Radio National’s Books and Arts program.

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About

Amy Barker’s debut novel Omega Park was Winner of the 2008 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Emerging Author, shortlisted for the 2010 FAW (Fellowship of Australian Writers) Christina Stead Award, and Winner of the 2012 IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Ena Noël Award.
Amy’s second novel Paradise Earth was Winner of the 2020 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) for Best Fiction – Australia/NZ/Pacific Rim.