Newton, Nerida 1972-
Newton, Nerida 1972-
Born 1972, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; married; husband's name Miles; children: a son. Education: University of Queensland, master's degree.
Home—Brisbane, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and educator. University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, faculty member in creative writing.
Queensland Premier's Literary Award, 2002, for The Lambing Flat.
The Lambing Flat, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 2003.
Death of a Whaler, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including the Courier Mail.
Named Australia's "Young Writer of the Year" by the Sydney Morning Herald in 2004, Nerida Newton made an immediate impression with her first novel, The Lambing Flat, published in Australia in 2003. Prior to writing her novel, Newton had spent ten years traveling around the world, writing in journals and on discarded papers and maps. Because of her experience overseas, the author felt estranged in Australia upon her return and wrote her first novel as the result of research into the stories of immigrants and travelers.
The Lambing Flat tells the story of a young Chinese man named Lok who comes to Australia with his father in search of gold in the 1860s. However, the two become involved in Australia's infamous Lambing Flat riots, in which violent anti-Chinese demonstrators killed several Chinese people and drove the Chinese totally out of the gold mining fields. Lok travels and eventually encounters Ella on a cattle ranch, and the two begin a relationship. Miles Gillham, writing on AllReaders.com, noted that the couple realize "what it is to belong—to another person, if not to a homeland."
In her second novel, Death of a Whaler, Newton features a man crippled physically and emotionally. Flinch, who was born with a shriveled leg, feels responsible for Nate West's death in 1962 on a whaling ship when Nate fell on Flinch's knife. Flinch's guilt over Nate's death has mired him in depression until he meets Karma, a woman he takes in after her lover beats her. Flinch begins to see his life turn around as he and Karma rebuild an old sailing ship. However, Flinch soon discovers that he still must face up to his overwhelming fears. Meanwhile, the citizens of the shire where Flinch lives are watching the whaling business fail and have no idea what the future holds for them. "The whalers are marooned on the shore when their industry dies; the hippies drift in to build a new Eden in the forest," wrote Michelle Griffin in the Sydney Morning Herald. "Nobody can imagine the condos that are coming and the whales loom on the horizon of their old killing fields. Newton's story is built on a solid foundation of cultural history."
Most reviewers noted Newton's writing abilities but also thought that she was overly striaghtforward in her symbolism. Nevertheless, reviewers had praise for the novel. "To those who enjoy their fiction mixed with historical fact; this book is for them," wrote Warren Thurston on BookPleasures.com. "It gives great insight into the human spirit, as it seeks compassion in the face of adversity. This is a book that is impossible to put down." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted the author's "graceful style" and that the novel "tells a neat … tale of a crooked man learning to regain his footing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bulletin with Newsweek, August 8, 2006, Judith White, review of Death of a Whaler, p. 66.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2007, review of Death of a Whaler.
Sydney Morning Herald, July 8, 2006, Michelle Griffin, review of Death of a Whaler.
AllReaders.com,http://www.allreaders.com/ (January 26, 2008), Miles Gillham, review of The Lambing Flat.
Booked Out,http://www.bookedout.com.au/ (January 26, 2008), brief profile of author.
BookPleasures.com,http://www.bookpleasures.com/ (October 19, 2004), Warren Thurston, review of The Lambing Flat.
Courier Mail,http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/ (September 8, 2006), Nerida Newton, "Have Baby, Can Travel."
Nerida Newton Home Page,http://www.neridanewton.com (January 26, 2008).