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Questions of Travel [Kindle Edition]

Michelle de Kretser
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Set in Sydney, London and Colombo, and taking side-trips all over the world, Questions of Travel examines exactly that: what is it that urges us to see other countries and cultures, and what is it we gain from our fleeting observations of them?

The novel's two main characters, young Australian woman Laura and young Sri Lankan man Ravi, are both in search of home - not just where it may be, but what it is.

Laura is restless and unfulfilled and spends her youth travelling all over the world before wondering whether home might be right back where she started out from. She returns to Sydney and to the affair she's longed for, but eventually realises home cannot be conjured by other people - it is from within her that she will find that sense of place and belonging. Ravi flees his homeland after a terrorist attack claims his Tamil wife and daughter. He is a refugee in the widest sense of the world - fleeing not only danger in his homeland but the horror in his own heart and the memories that won't let him go. Perhaps Australia is the haven he has been searching for - if he is allowed to stay - but when he is eventually forced to decide, why is his heart telling him to take a different turn altogether?

Home, heart, belonging, exile. How do we know when we are home and what does it actually mean?


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Review

‘This is a novel unlike any other I have read... It is not really possible to describe, in a short space, the originality and depth of this long and beautifully crafted book.’ A.S. Byatt, The Guardian

‘Ambitious and entertaining... Questions of Travel should ensure her place as a serious international novelist of the first rank.’ The Economist

‘Sweeping and virtuosic... An outstanding novel.’ Daily Mail

‘Novel by novel, the Sri Lankan-born Australian has emerged as one of the most fiercely intelligent voices in fiction today. This new work, her most ambitious yet, makes globalisation and its discontents the focus of a multi-faceted story that unites grandeur and intimacy.’ The Independent

‘An artful meditation on movement and migration.’ The Times Literary Supplement

‘Man Booker-longlisted de Kretser's precisely written novel is concerned with tourists, refugees and the complexities of immigration... a nuanced and ambivalent look at the crassness of tourism.’ The Sunday Times

‘This truly is a book for our times.’ Irish Times

About the Author

Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was 14. She was educated in Melbourne and Paris. She is the author of three other novels: The Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case (which won the Commonwealth Prize, SE Asia and Pacific region and the Encore Prize), and The Lost Dog, which was longlisted for both the Man Booker and the Orange Prize and received Australia's 'Book of the Year' Award, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and the Gold Medal from the Australian Literary Society. She lives in Sydney.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 943 KB
  • Print Length: 481 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0316219223
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (1 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DE2PO7K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #159,898 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars moving and thought-provoking 21 Oct. 2012
By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Questions of Travel is the fourth novel by Sri Lanka- born author, Michelle de Kretser. This novel follows, from childhood, events in the lives of two people: in Sydney, Laura Fraser, inspired by her Great-aunt Hester's travel stories, uses a bequest from Hester to travel the world, eventually making a career in travel guide publishing; in Sri Lanka, Ravi Mendis's life is turned upside down by devastating events, causing him to flee for his life. Ultimately, their paths cross, although this does not happen until almost three quarters of the way through the book. de Krester is skilled at conveying atmosphere and mood: she captures the feel of Sydney summer beautifully and her intimate knowledge of Sri Lanka is apparent. de Kretser slowly builds her story around a set of complex characters: I really wanted happiness for these two, but they seemed determined to thwart their own contentment at every turn. de Kretster's novel will have the reader thinking about travel in its many different forms: travel for pleasure, for work, as migration, and in flight from persecution or war. At one point, Ravi realises that "Immigration was the triumph of geography over history." de Kretser juxtaposes the superficiality of tourism with the life of locals in those destinations: the global rich in the context of the local poor. There is some beautiful prose: "Antennas were suspended above tiles - or were they the bones of fish? Clouds parted, and a great rib of light reached into a valley like an illustration from a Bible story." And "Ferries passed, lit up like cakes. The bridge went on holding the two halves of the city apart." The last paragraph is a completely unexpected twist. Powerful and thought-provoking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Questioning questions of travel 22 Nov. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a huge volume of two stories from Sri Lanka and Australia entwining in a modern fable - nice to read something very up to date and encompassing the Great Escape of westerners wanting to experience the world through hostels and cheap hotels, and the 3rd world lot of those wishing to escape but often unable to, except through the internet. it is a novel of our times. Trouble was for me I didn't warm to the Australian heroine. I didn't care about her enough. The Sri Lankan hero was much more interesting - particularly the shocking violence done to his wife - that is very haunting. They are both loners seeking something - but in the end, it all became a jumble of affairs and love stories in a tour office.......and no happy ending. Not that I need a happy ending, but it was all kind of ...uncomfortable and unsatisfying. Maybe that was the point. The relationship between the individual and the collective world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ... but no easy answers 15 Feb. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
‘Questions of Travel’, which takes its title from a poem by Elizabeth Bishop, is almost entirely told from the point of view of two people. In alternating chapters or sections, from their childhoods to the early days of the 21st century, we come to know Ravi, whom external forces oblige to leave his native Sri Lanka, and Laura, who does the regular Australian thing of backpacking round Europe, working here and there, but once back home seemingly lacks sufficient internal motivation to carve out a coherent and fulfilling life for herself.

Certainly, if you’re desperate to read about the lives of two attractive people converging and resolving themselves in happy communion, this isn’t the book for you. But Michelle de Kretser’s novel isn’t about that kind of narrative. What it sets out to explore is how we experience travel and whether and how travel differs from tourism, adventure and simple wandering. Why do people leave home and what do they expect? Does there have to be a purpose? How do you establish an identity for yourself in foreign places and can you interact satisfactorily with local people or other travellers like yourself?

Notions like this are explored in the author’s gorgeous prose over 500 pages. If the book seems to underscore the idea that it’s easier, if not necessarily better, to travel than to arrive, when we do come to the end we find the final paragraph is a corker.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A very well written but uncaptivating read 22 Mar. 2014
Format:Paperback
I bought the book after having been to one of the author's readings in Paris (btw she is a lovely lady). The book sounded interesting, the author seemed to be an interesting person and - being a passionate traveller myself - I had high expectations when I started reading.

Well, the storyline in general really was interesting and some paragraphs really make you stop and think about how you perceive travelling, tourism, etc. but overall the book was quite boring and I gave up after the first half (what I seldomly do).

The problem for me was not the author's writing, which is very good, very fluent and very vivid. However, some parts of the book (sometimes whole chapters) were just quite dull and I had to push myself to finish them, hoping that at some point it will get better again. The problem I had with Questions of Travel was its protagonists. They are original and the author is very good at giving them a voice and a personality but I just could not connect with them, so I didn't care much about what happened to them, which is deadly for reading a novel.

These are all very subjective reason why I did not like the book. Other readers may feel totally different about it. My recommendation therefore is: Don't buy and spend money on it, just try to find it in your local library.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Following the travels of others - holiday reading?
I bought this as holiday reading. Although I followed along and read the book from cover to cover, it didn't excite me. Perhaps it was just my state of mind when I was reading.
Published 8 months ago by Sandcastle24
1.0 out of 5 stars Nasty image associated with everyday item now seared into my head
I suppose its good writing to create such a strong association between a mutilated body and a thing I will see very often. But its cruel. Read more
Published 12 months ago by A. Alferoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich like velvet
I loved this book. It follows the seemingly unrelated lives of a Sri Lankan man and an Australian woman for over a decade before they find themselves both working for a travel... Read more
Published 12 months ago by MRS S E MARSHALL
1.0 out of 5 stars Questions of travel
Just awful and all over the place - It took 700 pages before the two main characters had a connection with one another and even then it was not clear what the intent was -
Published 17 months ago by Marina Marangos
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy going
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but it is heavy going and difficult to get into, it touches on many interesting areas but doesn't develop them. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Judy
4.0 out of 5 stars `What are you doing here? This was travel, marvellous and sad.'
There are two people's stories in this novel: two displaced people who've travelled in order to find, or to escape. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a page-turner
Skillful, yes. Excellent descriptive passages. Absorbing - not for me. No matter how well crafted or skillfully written a book, the reader should always be drawn into the plot and... Read more
Published on 26 Jun. 2013 by Coffee Lover
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit odd really
I'm not sure that I really enjoyed this book. The two characters only meet in the last few chapters and have little to no impact on each others lives. Read more
Published on 12 Jun. 2013 by cyclinguser
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