The Idealist

September 2023
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‘Making a thriller work calls on considerable reserves of discipline, ingenuity and skill. To do it as well as Jose does requires even more: tact, wit, sensitivity and (above all) an ability to breathe life into the conventions of an often inflexible genre.’ – Andrew Riemer, Sydney Morning Herald

‘Always, Jose writes beautifully and sensuously.’
Financial Times

‘Jose has a large capacity for feeling at home in a plurality of places. His writing creates a dialogue between Western modernity and older Taoist and Aboriginal spiritualities: that human effort is always subject to unforeseen changes of plan, so that wider patterns are only partly known and perceived as fragments, and so destiny can only be controlled partially.’ – Adam Aitken

Set in Australia, East Timor and Washington in the lead up to the independence referendum in East Timor in 1999, The Idealist is a novel which explores the entanglement of private and public life. It is a political mystery, the portrait of a marriage, a reflection on friendship, and a study of a personality as it breaks down under pressure. Jake, an Australian defence analyst, is torn between his support for the people of East Timor, whose commitment to independence in the face of mounting violence, he has experienced personally, and his sense of responsibility for, and complicity in, the actions of his government. When he is found dead in the garage of his Washington home, his wife Anne wants justice. The narrative is told from changing perspectives, moving through time and memory, in search of what really happened. It is a story, above all, about the formation, necessity and human cost of idealism.