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The remarkable true stories of The Boy Behind the Curtain reveal an intimate and rare view of Tim Winton’s imagination at work and play.

In Tim Winton’s fiction, chaos waits in the wings and ordinary people are ambushed by events and emotions beyond their control.

Winton’s own life has also been shaped by havoc. The extraordinarily powerful true stories that make up The Boy Behind the Curtain take us behind the scenes, revealing the accidents, both serendipitous and traumatic, that have influenced his view of life and fuelled his distinctive artistic vision.

They show the unexpected links between car crashes and religious faith, between surfing and writing, and how going to the wrong movie at the age of eight opened him up to a life of the imagination. And in writing about class, fundamentalism, asylum seekers, guns and the natural world, he presents not only the concerns that have made him the much-loved writer he is, but some of what unites the life and the work.

By turns impassioned, funny, joyous, astonishing, this is Winton’s most personal book to date, an insight into the man who’s held us enthralled for three decades and helped us reshape our view of ourselves. Behind it all, from risk-taking youth to surprise-averse middle age, has been the crazy punt of staking everything on becoming a writer.

‘Both brutally honest and entertaining, The Boy Behind the Curtain is a powerful excavation of those charged moments that make up a life – joyous, traumatic and transformational. All the markers of Winton’s fiction are here: the dark realism, the unflinching eye, the humour and the connection with place . . . An inspirational read.’ readings.com.au

‘A dazzling book, full of wisdom and wonder . . . with a staggering, effortless sense of drama wherever you pick it up . . . No one is better than Tim Winton at giving dramatic substance to the interface between art and life . . . This is a rich and brilliant book.’ Peter Craven, Australian Book Review

The Boy Behind the Curtain roots you to the spot, forces you to ask questions – about yourself, about the way we live. Sinewy and lyrical by turns, Winton’s is an authentic Australian voice to trumpet to a world audience.’ Morag Fraser, Australian Book Review

‘He makes complex art seem simple . . . A body of nonfiction work that is (unsurprisingly) beautiful and brilliant and provocative, and (surprisingly) revealing . . . It is this sight of the sacred in the ordinary that probably accounts for some part of why Winton's writing recedes from his imitators' reach.’ Malcolm Knox, Sydney Morning Herald

‘That Winton’s nonfiction is as lyrical as his fiction goes without saying.’ The Guardian (Australia)

‘A contemplative book . . . You also reach its end with a particular sense of how this particular man experiences life – metaphorically, philosophically. How he carries things; how he feels them . . . He acknowledges wonder. He acknowledges unknowns. He pays attention . . . A rich book.’ Weekend Australian

‘Tim Winton’s 28th book proves the much-loved Australian writer just gets better with age.’ Woman’s Day

Reviews

A dazzling book, full of wisdom and wonder . . . with a staggering, effortless sense of drama wherever you pick it up . . . No one is better than Tim Winton at giving dramatic substance to the interface between art and life . . . This is a rich and brilliant book.

Peter Craven, Australian Book Review

He makes complex art seem simple . . . A body of non-fiction work that is (unsurprisingly) beautiful and brilliant and provocative, and (surprisingly) revealing . . . It is this sight of the sacred in the ordinary that probably accounts for some part of why Winton's writing recedes from his imitators' reach.

Malcolm Knox, Sydney Morning Herald

That Winton’s nonfiction is as lyrical as his fiction goes without saying.

The Guardian (Australia)

A contemplative book . . . You also reach its end with a particular sense of how this particular man experiences life – metaphorically, philosophically. How he carries things; how he feels them . . . He acknowledges wonder. He acknowledges unknowns. He pays attention . . . A rich book.

The Weekend Australian

Both brutally honest and entertaining, The Boy Behind the Curtain is a powerful excavation of those charged moments that make up a life – joyous, traumatic and transformational. All the markers of Winton’s fiction are here: the dark realism, the unflinching eye, the humour and the connection with place . . . An inspirational read.

readings.com.au

The Boy Behind the Curtain roots you to the spot, forces you to ask questions – about yourself, about the way we live. Sinewy and lyrical by turns, Winton’s is an authentic Australian voice to trumpet to a world audience.

Morag Fraser, Australian Book Review

Tim Winton’s 28th book proves the much-loved Australian writer just gets better with age.

Woman’s Day

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback

    9781926428765

    October 3, 2016

    Hamish Hamilton

    320 pages

    RRP $45.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Paperback

    9780143785996

    August 14, 2017

    Penguin

    320 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781760142377

    October 3, 2016

    Penguin eBooks

    320 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Extract

On the beach one day, as I was sliding my board back onto the tray of the ute and trying to clear my sinuses of salty water, an old neighbour who was passing by with his dog told me he didn’t know what people like me saw in surfing. He said, ‘I see youse blokes out there day and night. Any time I go past you’re just sittin there, bobbin around like moorin buoys. Tell me, Timmy, what’s the point?’ And I didn’t know how to answer. Almost every day of my life is shaped according to the weather, most acutely to swell, tide and wind direction. After surfing for fifty years, you’d think I’d be able to give a better account of myself. But there wasn’t much to tell him, because there is no point. Surfing is a completely pointless exercise. Perhaps that’s why I’m addicted to it. But he was right, my neighbour, God rest him. We go to the water every day and every hour we can. And most of what we do is wait.

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Awards and Recognition

  • Fellowship of Australian Writers Awards
    2016
    Winner
    Excellence in Non Fiction Award
  • Australian Book Industry Awards
    2017
    Longlisted
    Biography Book of the Year
  • Indie Book Awards
    2017
    Longlisted
    Indie Book Awards