The sweeping story of men and women struggling to reclaim their lives in the aftermath of world conflict by 'one of the greatest writers working in English today' (Michael Cunningham) and Winner of the Miles Franklin Award and the National Book Award for Fiction.
THE GREAT FIRE is Shirley Hazzard's first novel since THE TRANSIT OF VENUS, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1981. The conflagration of her title is the Second World War. In war-torn Asia and stricken Europe, men and women, still young but veterans of harsh experience, must reinvent their lives and expectations, and learn, from their past, to dream again. Some will fulfill their destinies, others will falter. At the centre of the story, a brave and brilliant soldier finds that survival and worldly achievement are not enough. His counterpart, a young girl living in Occupied Japan and tending her dying brother, falls in love, and in the process discovers herself.
In the looming shadow of world enmities resumed, and of Asia's coming centrality in world affairs, a man and a woman seek to recover self-reliance, balance, and tenderness, struggling to reclaim their humanity.
Shirley Hazzard. For me, the greatest living writer on goodness and love . . . THE GREAT FIRE so overwhelmed me that I came close to being unable to read the last three pages. If the last sentence doesn't make you gasp and weep, you are not fully conscious . . . Shirley Hazzard, the quiet, playful, lovestruck artist of love, goodness and death in the 20th century. ' Bryan Appleyard - 'I wish there were a set of words like 'brilliant'
and 'dazzling - that we saved for only the rarest occasions, so that when I tell you THE GREAT FIRE is brilliant and dazzling you would know it is the absolute truth.
Ann Patchett, author of BEL CANTO - 'Shirley Hazzard has written an hypnotic novel that unfolds like a dream: Japan, Southeast Asia, the end of one war and the beginning of another, the
Joan Didion - 'Shirley Hazzard is, purely and simply, one of the greatest writers working in English today. Which makes me more than grateful to have this long-hope
Born in Sydney in 1931 to a Welsh father and Scottish mother. After the end of the Second World War her father joined the Foreign Service and was posted in Hong Kong and there at the age of 16 Shirley Hazzard began working for the British Combined Intelligence Services before the family moved to New Zealand. At twenty she moved to New York and there she worked for the United Nations throughout much of the 1950s, which included a posting to Naples, a city that became much loved by her. She married Francis Steegmuller, translator and biographer in 1963 and they divided their time between Italy and New York. They were introduced by Muriel Spark.
Shirley Hazzard wrote three non-fiction books including a memoir of her friendship with Graham Greene, Greene on Capri. Her last novel, The Great Fire, won the 2003 National Book Award for fiction and the Miles Franklin Award, was shortlisted for The Women's Prize for Fiction (then called The Orange) and named a Book of the Year by The Economist. She died on December 12 2016 aged 85.