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About the book
  • Published: 6 September 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775533757
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $32.99

The Virgin and the Whale

a love story




A touching, clever novel about stories, about using them to create your own identity, and about the way they can forge bonds of love.

A touching, clever novel about stories, about using them to create your own identity, and about the way they can forge bonds of love.

It is 1919. Elizabeth Whitman is working as a nurse in the local hospital, waiting for her husband to return from war, though he is missing in action, ‘presumed dead’. She keeps him alive for their four-year-old son, Jack, by telling the story of a man she calls The Balloonist, who went away in a hot-air balloon and has adventures in exotic countries.

When she is asked to nurse a returned soldier whose head injury has reduced him to an animal-like state with no memory, Elizabeth starts telling her stories to him. It is through them that she manages to engage his interest and offer him a new life . . . in more ways than one.

  • Pub date: 6 September 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775533757
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $32.99

About the Author

Carl Nixon

Carl Nixon is an award-winning short story writer, novelist and playwright, who is, as The New Zealand Listener declared, ‘stunningly talented’. He has twice won the Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition, and was runner-up for the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Short Story Competition in 1999, and won its premier prize in 2007. His first book, Fish ’n’ Chip Shop Song and other stories went to number one on the New Zealand bestselling fiction list, and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book.

Nixon completed his first novel while he was the Ursula Bethell/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence at Canterbury University in 2006. The resulting novel, Rocking Horse Road, saw him identified as ‘a major talent’ by North & South, and was long-listed for the Dublin IMPAC Awards 2009. His second novel, Settlers’ Creek, was also long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, in 2012. His novels have been published in Germany by Weidle Verlag, and Rocking Horse Road appeared on several lists for the best crime novel in Germany in 2012.

His writing for theatre includes The Birthday Boy and The Raft, and he has adapted for the stage Lloyd Jones’s novel The Book of Fame and JM Coetzee’s Disgrace. The New Zealand Herald has said of him: ‘Nixon still shows what a master craftsman he can be . . . Exquisite writing.’

In North & South, Warwick Roger said of Rocking Horse Road: ‘Nixon writes beautifully. He gets the style and timbre of teenagers just right . . . Nixon has fulfilled the promise he showed with last year’s book of short stories, Fish ’n’ Chip Shop Song.’ Owen Marshall wrote of Settlers’ Creek: ‘With no flamboyance, but with talent and a scrupulous art, Carl Nixon establishes himself as one of our best younger writers.’

See more at www.carlnixon.co.nz/

Also by Carl Nixon

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Praise for The Virgin and the Whale

“This places him firmly as one of our leading writers . . . complex narrative, beautiful prose and compelling characters makes this book absolutely sing . . . really, really clever.”

Sonja da Freiz, http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon

“The relationship between the wild amnesiac and the pragmatist Is brilliantly laid out and unwinds to a delightful conclusion: the subtitle, A Love Story, forewarns us of such an outcome. . . . This novel is wonderfullyaccomplished, beautifully told and a delight to engage with.”

Michael Larsen, NZ Listener

“If I read a better novel this year, I will eat my socks. Although I am fairly certain it won't come to that. It would be hard to top this marvellous tale . . . This is an extraordinary story . . . woven exquisitely together by Nixon. Elegantly crafted, gripping and heart-warming. Five stars.”

Peta Stavelli, New Zealand Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations

“This story is about battles of wills and ideologies as well as the healing power of love. Yet Nixon's novel is also, and equally, about the healing properties of storytelling itself . . . Above all, those who can listen to a story and hear the surface and subtexts are upheld over those whose minds are not open to the riches and alternative ways of thinking that stories can bring. Nixon brings home to us why literature is rightly placed among the humanities.”

Peter Stupples, Otago Daily Times

“It is a story which is powerful, yet gentle. It is evocative and poignant. But most of all it is beautifully written and clever and kept me hooked to the last.”

Wendy A Mill, Timaru Herald

“An intricately woven story within a story within a beautiful love story . . . Clever, succinct and yet poetic. Engaging presentation. A good present for a friend, or to yourself.”

Latitude Magazine

“I am a big Carl Nixon fan – and The Virgin & the Whale has strengthened this position. It is a story about stories – how we use them to cope with trauma; and stories within stories – overtly playing with storytelling, character, plot and ‘happy’ endings. . . . The Virgin & the Whale is poignant and wise and I highly recommend it.”

alysontheblog, https://alysontheblog.wordpress.com/


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