Book Talk: Bryce Courtenay looks back to fathom present

Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:47am EST
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Bestselling author Bryce Courtenay says he's an old man, but he still has lots of stories to tell and his latest tale is particularly relevant during the economic turmoil of our times.

"The Story of Danny Dunn", published last month, is 76-year-old Courtenay's 19th book since he left advertising and began full-time writing in 1989.

It is a poignant saga that centres around eponymous character, a poor boy from the inner suburbs of Sydney, and starts in the aftermath of the Great Depression, runs through World War Two and spans three generations of an Australian family during a time of great change in the country's history.

Courtenay told Reuters the book provided insights into what it means to be Australian, and although it is set in the past, has resonance for what is happening in the world today.

"We, as in the world, are going through a hard time," he said during a recent interview.

"We're beginning to see something that my generation never imagined would happen: the demise of the Western, Caucasian world. The idea that General Motors would go broke would have been an absurd joke when I was a child.

"All the things we considered right are now being challenged, making us take a hard look at ourselves."

Courtenay said he deliberately set "Danny Dunn" during some of the most difficult periods of human history -- the global economic recession of the 1930s and 1940s and the ensuing war -- to put into perspective today's economic woes, and leave readers with a hopeful message.   Continued...

<p>FOR RELEASE WITH STORY BC-AUSTRALIA-COURTENAY - Author Bryce Courtenay (L) holds the hand of a lady after he signed a copy of his book titled 'The Night Country' for her at a Sydney bookstore in this undated file photo. REUTERS/David Gray/Files</p>