(British, 1954– )
William Rivière was educated at Bradfield, where he was an exact contemporary of Louis de Bernières. He was brought up in Norfolk, which forms the backdrop for many of his novels (Watercolour Sky, 1990; Echoes of War, 1997). After leaving King's College, Cambridge, he spent seven years in Italy rowing Venetian vessels on the lagoon (A Venetian Theory of Heaven, 1992). He paddled sampans in Sarawak and sailed lateen craft on the Indian Ocean. Out of this experience came one of his strongest and most haunting novels, Borneo Fire (1995): the brave fight to halt the spread of a vast forest fire is a metaphor for the lives of the protagonists and the island itself. Start, however, with Kate Caterina (2001), the story of an English girl who marries an Italian in 1936 and tells her story from the inside of Nazi Fascist Europe. It is one of very few books which have looked at the patchwork of invasions and uprisings, Fascist, Allied, Patriots, Brigands, which Italy today still finds too traumatic to contemplate. Rivière is now Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Urbino in Italy.
Louis de Bernières, Joseph Conrad, Piers Paul Read AE