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In perhaps his boldest and most personal novel, Tom Keneally explores the journeys of modern Australians alongside the imagined story of ancient Learned Man whose remains were discovered in Western NSW decades ago.

Learned Man is the child of humankind as we know it; of those who are thought to have travelled from the Rift Valley in Africa and to ancient Australia.


Shelby Apple is an acclaimed documentary-maker. After making films about Learned Man’s discovery, in Vietnam and back home in the Northern Territory, Shelby turns his sights on Eritrea. He thinks this embattled society might represent a new cognitive leap, one that will reconcile our tenderness and our savagery, our reason and our emotions.

Shelby sees the world through the lens of his camera; Learned Man through the lens of his responsibility under law. Both men are well aware that their landscape comes to them from elders and ancestors. They are each willing to die and, in a sense, kill for their secret crafts.

Two Old Men Dying is an exquisite exploration of community and country, love and mortality.

Reviews

A dual narrative shared between Shelby Apples, an Oscar-winning documentary maker in the present day, and Learned Man, thought to be a link to early mankind when he emerged from Africa over 42,000 years ago. Fascinated with Learned Man’s story, Apples makes several films about the discovery of Learned, and undertakes a campaign to have his remains returned to his native lands in the Australian outback. Learned’s voice is a wonderful creation: modern, compassionate and filled with moral authority. Readers are shown the world from both characters’ perspectives and both men are also aware of the voices of their elders and heroes. Both perspectives in Two Old Men Dying will fascinate Keneally’s dedicated followers who have come to expect daring narratives dealing with themes of family, morality and moral responsibility. It will especially appeal to readers with an interest in prehistorical stories contrasted against modern Australian life.

Chris Harrington, Australian Bookseller + Publisher

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9780143785415

    October 29, 2018

    Vintage Australia

    336 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9780143785439

    October 29, 2018

    Random House Australia

    336 pages

    Online retailers

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