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  • Published: 2 March 2015
  • ISBN: 9780857984043
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

A First Place

from the award-winning author of Remembering Babylon, Ransom and Johnno

A collection of personal essays and writing from David Malouf to celebrate his 80th birthday.

Topography, geography, history.
Multiculturalism, referendums, the constitution and national occasions.

Parental and grandparental romances, the sensual and bountiful beauty of Brisbane, the mysterious offerings of Queenslander houses, and leaving home.

The idea of a nation and the heart of its people.
Being Australian and Australia's relationship to the world.
Putting ourselves on the map.

All these subjects, and more, are explored from the generous, questioning and original perspective of David Malouf.

At the heart of these pieces is the idea of home, where and what it is. What they illustrate is the formation of a man, an Australian and one of the best writers this country has produced.


‘A sublime meditation on this country .’ DAVID MARR, THE MONTHLY
‘Malouf is our best living interpreter of place and tradition’ ANDREW FUHRMANN, THE SUN-HERALD
‘Remarkable for its breadth of mind, elegance and wisdom.’ PETER CRAVEN, THE AGE
‘Australia’s finest writer’ MIRIAM COSIC, THE AUSTRALIAN
‘Malouf is a lyrical story-writer.’ MALCOLM KNOWX, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
‘A first-rate writer-a sensitive historian of the spirit.’ WALL STREET JOURNAL
‘A richly imagistic writer, philosophical and literary in the best sense.’ WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD

  • Published: 2 March 2015
  • ISBN: 9780857984043
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

David Malouf

David Malouf is the internationally acclaimed author of novels including Ransom, The Great World (winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ prize and the Prix Femina Etranger), Remembering Babylon (winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), An Imaginary Life, Conversations at Curlow Creek, Dream Stuff, Every Move You Make and his autobiographical classic 12 Edmondstone Street. His Collected Stories won the 2008 Australia-Asia Literary Award. His most recent books are A First Place and The Writing Life. He was born in 1934 and was brought up in Brisbane.

Also by David Malouf

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Praise for A First Place

Best book of 2015.

Sonia Lee, Gleaner

A sublime meditation on this country in all of its illuminating contradictions.

David Marr, The Monthly

Malouf is our best living interpreter of place and tradition, a novelist, poet and essayist whose imaginative achievement for this country is second only to Patrick White's. They are indeed blessings, these essays. They are wise, instructive, persuasive, ornamented with poetic sketches of places and people, elevated by a half-concealed melancholy and touched with a secret yearning for a place that is more than first, but is also last and always: a place that is less than heaven, but more, perhaps, than home.

Andrew Fuhrmann, The Sun-Herald

A First Place, is remarkable for its breadth of mind, its elegance and for an overall effect of something like wisdom. What is so remarkable about the broodings on his homeland of this novelist, poet, academic manque is that he is so expert on what he speaks of and yet has the range experts so rarely dare to reach unto. We are lucky to have the glimpses of a grandeur these essays disclose, not least because of the occasional pang of sorrow and pity that floods through them as well as the all-encompassing reasonableness that they exemplify.

Peter Craven, The Age

It is the exquisite microtonal progression of Malouf’s style – its determined concentration on the domestic, its evident desire to rescue small human story from the wreckage of History or the distant abstractions of mythology – that grants these tactical incursions into the social and political everyday a sense of charm and a subversive lightness. His ideas are communicated with such suavity and decorum that their deeper implications might easily be passed over. But, since he remains reticent on the matter, it falls to the rest of us to acknowledge that Malouf’s creative works formed one crucial component in establishing this new balance. It was his stories, and the lucidity and intelligence with which they lay claim to the world about them, that helped Australians to turn their habitation into a home.

The Saturday Paper

The prose pieces collected in A First Place are all focused on Australia and give the cumulative effect of a thinker with a shrewd cosmopolitan mind and a poet's eye, showing us ourselves as we have changed over the years. We are indebted to Knopf for gathering these urbane, intelligent, deeply committed and often provocative insights together into one accessible volume.

Katharine England, Adelaide Advertiser

David Malouf’s absorbing essays, full of erudition and with his trademark lucid prose, engage with the troubled issue of Australian identity.

Kathy Gollan, Newtown Review of Books