Filled with acute observation, humour and tenderness, Butterfish is Nick Earls at his very best.
Nick Earls is the author of thirteen books, including bestselling novels such as Zigzag Street, Bachelor Kisses and Perfect Skin. His work has been published internationally in English and in translation. Zigzag Street won a Betty Trask Award in the UK in 1998, and Perfect Skin was the only novel nominated for an Australian Comedy Award in 2003. 48 Shades of Brown was awarded Book of the Year (older readers) by the Children's Book Council of Australia in 2000, and in the US it was a Kirkus Reviews selection in its books of the year for 2004. 48 Shades of Brown and Perfect Skin have been adapted into feature films, with Solo un Padre, the film adapted from the Italian edition of Perfect Skin, a top-ten box office hit in Italy in 2008. After January, 48 Shades of Brown, Zigzag Street and Perfect Skin have all been successfully adapted for theatre, and the Zigzag Street play toured nationally in 2005. The True Story of Butterfish is his first work simultaneously written as both a novel and a play.
Nick Earls is back with his first adult novel in five years. It's a warm novel about Curtis Holland, who moves into suburban Brisbane when his million- dollar band decides to separate after a less-thansuccessful third album. Curtis is struggling with what he is supposed to do in his new life when the neighbours invite him over for dinner. Earls has written some great characters into the book: Kate who is a struggling single mother; Annaliese, the 16- year-old daughter who is grappling with becoming an adult; and Mark, the 15-year-old son who writes porn and breeds fish. Add to this substance-using Derek (ex-frontman for the band), who comes to Australia to visit his cancer-stricken father and in the process repairs his relationship with Curtis, and Patrick, Curtis' gay brother. This novel felt like Earls was trying something new with his writing, trying to move in a direction that I didn't feel quite worked. While the characterisation is really strong, not enough happened in the book to make this a must-read for all customers that enjoy fine Australian writing. The novel would appeal to the Nick Hornby and 'lad-lit' market. (See interview page 48.) Melanie Barton is the fiction category manager at Angus & Robertson