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.

Approaching the 25th anniversary of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, a trio battles demons on Tasman Peninsula. When John Kettle helps his fourteen-year-old son apply for a firearms permit, his prodigal sister Ruth looks to the landscape to explain the traumatic past, and illuminate their present. A Port Arthur survivor, Marina Aquilina has returned with her brother to pack up the holiday home Doo-No-Harm, following their mother’s death. In a convoy of duck rescuers, the siblings head for a confrontation with shooters on the wetland.

“Already he could see the sensational headline, ‘Ceasefire’, or perhaps, ‘War Is Over’. John knew better though. The reason the hunters and rescuers stood in such close proximity was not some truce resulting from the shooting accident; it was merely the price of admission to a rhombus of shared sunshine.”

In this existential novel, lives are choreographed by violence versus compassion, before the inevitable reckoning.

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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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, and Finalist for Literary Fiction in the 2020 International Book Awards.