Mateship With Birds
On the outskirts of a country town in the early 1950s, a lonely farmer trains his binoculars on a raucous family of kookaburras roosting next to his dairy.
As Harry observes the birds through a year of feast, famine, birth, death, war, romance and song, his neighbour, Betty, has her own set of binoculars trained on him.
Betty’s son, Michael, gravitates to the gentle man next door, and Harry, sensing Michael is ready to stretch his wings, decides to teach him about sex. Harry knows everything about the land. But what does he know about women?
Mateship with Birds is a tender, witty novel of young lust and mature love. A glorious tale of innocence lost, it celebrates life on one small farm in a vast ancient landscape, as a collection of misfits question what a family might be.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Set in 1950s rural Australia, the author invites readers into the lives of a group of misfits who are brought together through isolation, tragedy, love and coming-of-age. Carrie Tiffany’s highly original characterisation explores the limits of relationships and boundaries of family ties in a work of outstanding literary merit.
Carrie Tiffany’s second novel is redolent with 1950s rural Australia; and kookaburras, iconic Australian birds play a starring role in the story. Tiffany’s unique voice delivers an earthly novel set on a small scale, featuring precisely observed natural phenomena and exploring universal themes. Mateship with Birds is the winner of the inaugural Stella Prize and has been shortlisted for a number of major Australian literary awards.
A fable of innocence and of experience set in a small Australian town in the early 1950s, celebrating the unity of man and live beings in an impressive airy narration full of compassion, irony, acute sense of beauty and exquisite rendering of local colour.