Gould's Book of Fish (Paperback)
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DescriptionFROM THE WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2014 Once upon a time that was called 1828, before all the living things on the land and the fishes in the sea were destroyed, there was a man named William Buelow Gould, a convict in Van Dieman's Land who fell in love with a black woman and discovered too late that to love is not safe. Silly Billy Gould, invader of Australia, liar, murderer, forger, fantasist, condemned to live in the most brutal penal colony in the British Empire, and there ordered to paint a book of fish. Once upon a time, miraculous things happened...
- Published: 15 March 2003
- Format: Paperback 404 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781843540700 ISBN 10: 1843540703
- Sales rank: 26,881
Reviews for Gould's Book of Fish
- Top review
a powerful read
Gould's Book of Fish is the third book by Australian author, Richard Flanagan. The Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, in the State Library of Tasmania holds a book titled "Sketchbook of fishes" which features 36 watercolour on paper sketches of marine life painted by convict William Buelow Gould at Macquarie Harbour Penal Station in Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania) around 1832. Whilst Flanagan's book contains twelve of those sketches, that is where the resemblance ends. Flanagan takes some historical figures (Gould, Governor Arthur, Gentleman Bushranger Matthew Brady, Ackermann) and facts (penal settlement at Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour, Gould's "Sketchbook of fishes") and builds around these a fantastic tale of megalomania on a remote convict island. It is a rewriting by a person of questionable sanity (Sid Hammet) of a book produced by a 19th century convict of questionable sanity (Gould) containing an account of Gould's life which experts deem to be of questionable authenticity, and of which Gould himself states that it is highly subjective and may not be true. Which is probably quite appropriate as the main characters (Gould and Hammet) are forgers. Flanagan includes some delightful imagery ".....some brittle cotton threads cheerily jutting out like Great Aunt Maisie's stubble, without shame and with a certain archaic vigour." It was interesting to see how Flanagan incorporated each of the fish into the story. The plot is highly imaginative, brought to life with rich text and realistic dialogue, and the result is somewhat surreal. A powerful read. by Marianne Vincent