Armstrong, Sarah 1968-
Armstrong, Sarah 1968-
Born 1968, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; daughter of a psychotherapist and a psychologist. Education: Mitchell College, Bathurst, Australia, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Yoga.
Journalist, educator, and author. ABC Radio, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, began as trainee and became a field producer, foreign correspondent, and researcher, c. 1990-97; teaches writing and yoga at workshops and retreats.
Walkley Award, 1993, for radio program about Gallipoli.
Salt Rain (novel), Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2004, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2006.
Also author of short stories, including "The Long Wet."
"The Long Wet" was adapted as a short film; rights to Salt Rain have been bought by an Australian film company.
Sarah Armstrong worked for ABC Radio in Australia for eight years, and won a prestigious Walkley Award for her work, before giving up radio journalism to become a fiction writer. She traveled to an isolated rainforest valley on the north coast of Australia to find peace and quiet to write her first book. The constant rain in the area consequently imbues the setting of her debut novel, Salt Rain. It is the story of teenager Allie Curran, who goes to live on her extended family's farm in a similar valley after her mother commits suicide. Here, Allie discovers the deceptions behind her mother's stories of how Allie was conceived, and the truth proves to be much darker than the her mother's romanticized version of a man she once met. Shortlisted in 2005 for three Australian literary awards—the Queensland Premier's Literary Award, the Miles Franklin Award, and the Dobbie Award—some critics compared Armstrong's work to that of Barbara Kingsolver.
When the novel was released in the United States, however, American critics felt the comparison was not completely apt. Stephen Morrow, writing in the Library Journal, pointed out that Salt Rain "lacks the character depth and realistic dialog that make Kingsolver's works such a success." A Publishers Weekly critic described the novel as "sparely written but emotionally tumid," adding that while the author evokes atmosphere well "the backward-looking narrative moves slowly." Booklist contributor Joanne Wilkinson also considered the tale "slow-moving," but she nevertheless appreciated the "carefully observed family story." "Armstrong is talented," concluded a writer for Kirkus Reviews, "but her emotional delicacy is in danger of drowning in the portentous atmospherics."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2006, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Salt Rain, p. 26.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2006, review of Salt Rain, p. 307.
Library Journal, March 1, 2006, Stephen Morrow, review of Salt Rain, p. 76.
Publishers Weekly, February 13, 2006, review of Salt Rain, p. 64.
ABC.net,http://www.abc.net.au/ (August 18, 2005), Mike Corkill, "Exploring the Writing Process with First Time Novelist Sarah Armstrong," interview with the author.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (November 26, 2006), review of Salt Rain.
Sarah Armstrong Home Page,http://www.saraharmstrong.com (November 26, 2006).