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Robert Drewe Biography

(1943– ), Australian, Age, Bulletin, The Savage Crows, A Cry in the Jungle Bar, The Bodysurfers, Fortune

australian stories novel journalist

Australian writer, born in Melbourne. He travelled in China, India, the Philippines, the Pacific, and Japan as a journalist; he also worked as literary editor for the Australian and has written for the Age and the Bulletin. His first novel, The Savage Crows (1976), tells the story of Stephen, a young journalist researching into the life of the nineteenth-century Protector of Aborigines in Tasmania, George Augustus Robinson. Stephen's contemporary decline is alternated with passages from Robinson's diary: the novel's juxtaposing of its two different stories, told in two different styles, contrasts white disintegration with Aboriginal strength. In A Cry in the Jungle Bar (1979) Drewe explores Australian-Asian relations, placing an Australian water buffalo expert, a man of huge physique, in the middle of Asia, where he finds himself at a loss with the complexities of the culture and the politics. The Bodysurfers (1983) is a series of interlinked stories about three generations of one family. In these stories, which offer a kind of celebration of Australian hedonism, Drewe was one of the first to identify the dominant Australian cultural experience, which is drawn not from the bush, but from the beach. Fortune (1986), set partly in America, draws on the author's experience as a private eye in San Francisco and includes passages of journalistic ‘faction’. A second collection of stories, The Bay of Contented Men, appeared in 1989. The novel Our Sunshine (1991) is a fictional portrait of Ned Kelly. Drewe is the editor of an anthology of stories, The Picador Book of the Beach (1994).

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