O'Connor, Andrew 1978-
O'Connor, Andrew 1978-
Born 1978, in Warragul, Victoria, Australia. Education: Attended Melbourne University.
Writer and educator. Has taught English as a second language (ESL) in various regions of Japan.
The Australian/Vogel Literary Award, 2005, for Tuvalu.
Tuvalu, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.
Writer Andrew O'Connor has alternately spent time in his homeland of Australia and teaching English in Japan. His sojourns in Japan were the inspiration for his first novel, Tuvalu. The work is about a young Australian man living in a hostel in Tokyo who has two affairs, one with a Japanese hotel heiress and another with a fellow Australian teacher. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Brigid Delaney noted: "Populating the book are Americans who drift to Tokyo to escape themselves, young Australians who want to make fast money and forget their suburban homes, male catalogue models and fly-by-night English school operators."
The novel focuses on what O'Connor repeatedly encountered with foreigners whom he met while living in Japan and something that he also experienced himself. He told Delaney that the "common theme [among them] … is the experience of isolation and loneliness." The novel's title refers to the Pacific island nation and is meant to represent the idea of a paradise of contentment that really can never be attained. The novel's narrator, Noah Tuttle, has come to Tokyo to forget about his past and is staying at a seedy hostel when he begins an affair with Tilly, who is hiding something about her past, and then another affair with the out-of-control and spoiled rich girl, Mami. Eventually, Noah also becomes involved in an operation to deal marijuana with a former hostel mate. By the book's end, Noah must decide if one of the women in his life is his own personal island of contentment.
James Ley, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, noted that the author "writes with a welcome sense of humour that conveys an appreciation of life's oddness and absurdity." Ley went on to note that "Tuvalu is a strong first novel, written in a clear and unpretentious style." Other reviewers also had praise for the novel. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that Tuvalu is "redeemed from jejune first-novel fatuousness by apt imagery and pervasive wit." In his review on the PopMatters Web site, David Pullar was intrigued by the author's look at the relationship between East and West. Pullar noted: "Through Tuttle's self-imposed exile, O'Connor has captured at least part of the essence of the Western obsession with Japan." Citing Mami as an example of this East-West connection, Pullar wrote: "For all her myriad faults, Mami Kaketa is also a metaphor for Japan through Western eyes," adding: "She offers adventure and spontaneity and requires surprisingly little in the way of emotional attachment."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of Tuvalu.
Sydney Morning Herald, September 21, 2005, Brigid Delaney, "Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer Pays Off," profile of author; August 22, 2006, James Ley, review of Tuvalu.
Brisbane Writers Festival,http://www.brisbanewritersfestival.com.au/ (January 24, 2008), brief profile of author.
Orion Publishing Group,http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/ (January 24, 2008), brief profile of author.
PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (September 6, 2006), David Pullar, review of Tuvalu.