The Custodians

Originally published by Pan Macmillan Australia and Picador UK (1997) and St Martin’s Press, New York (1998)
Published by Allen & Unwin (2012)

Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize 1997 (South-East Asia)

‘A novel of characters but also of ideas that takes us to the heart of Australia now.’ – David Malouf

‘Epic in its architecture, richly filigreed with intimate and erotic detail, The Custodians … catches you gasping with joy of recognition and shocks of surprise in its revelations of an Australian generation’s experience. I love this book.’ – Scott Hicks

‘An intimate, risk-taking portrait of our modern Australian lives.’ – Jane Campion

‘A brilliantly vivid tapestry of the Australian predicament, rich in possibility, but shot through with accident and revelation. Through it all breathes the ancient reality of the land; its red earth and bright air painted with the sure hand of a master.’ – Simon Schama

In the scarred landscape of contemporary Australia, eight childhood friends seek their individual destinies: Alex, ambitious but melancholy; Cleve, snatched by the state from his Aboriginal parents; Danny, his twin brother, who has spent more of his life in custody than free; Elspeth, the heiress seeking enlightenment; Jane, passionately committed to her art; Josie, dedicated to doing good; Wendy, in search of fun; and Ziggy, the brilliant actor. These are the custodians, but of what, and for whom?

From the 1950s to the 1980s; from the outback to the heights of Manhattan’s art world to the London stage; from tropical Queensland to Mao’s China … such is the scope of The Custodians. It is at once a startling and an often comical novel about friendship, love and betrayal; and an astounding story of struggle and history–a history which these eight characters must both embrace and transcend if they are to find reconciliation with the land to which they belong, but which does not belong to them.

The Custodians is a triumph of storytelling, a sharp and moving epic from one of Australia’s most acclaimed writers.