Red Heaven by Nicolas Rothwell, Text Publishing


Shortlist year: 2022

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: Text Publishing

'Red Heaven' is the story of a child's journey to adulthood, his loss of those he loves and his fixing of them in memory. It begins in the late 1960s in Switzerland, as the boy's ideas about life are being shaped by two rival influences.

'Red Heaven' is about the people who make us what we are: how they come into our lives, affect us, then depart the stage. This fiction, alive to the elusive beauties and sadnesses of the world, is Nicolas Rothwell's finest achievement.

About the author

Red Heaven by Nicolas Rothwell, Text Publishing

Nicolas Rothwell

Nicolas Rothwell lives in Far North Queensland and is a former foreign correspondent. His award-winning books include 'The Red Highway', 'Belomor' and, most recently, 'Quicksilver'. 'Belemor' and 'Quicksilver' were both awarded by the Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

Judges' comments

Nicolas Rothwell's 'Red Heaven' is a dazzling novel for the ages. Set mainly in the 1960s upheaval in Eastern Europe, it is as relevant today as it would have been then. It is an echoing reminder that history is the past, present and future. It is a romantic, dramatic, intelligent, cultured, political, cinematic, and, above all, human story that centres on the people who love us and who we love in return, regardless of the cost. It shows, via the main character, a parentless boy who becomes a solitary man, how deeply we are formed by the people closest to us.

Rothwell takes a bold authorial gamble and it pays off: while the story is narrated by the boy, most of what we read is rendered as dialogue, as conversation. It is the gaps between what is said and what is not said that takes readers into the complex, daring, fragile minds and lives of the characters who are living, as we all do at some point, in unprecedented times. The result is a novel that transcends time and place.