ABC Radio National
The Drawing Room – with Patricia Karvelas
The discussion explores the ideas of disappearance and loss and the phenomenon of ‘found people’ in The Fifth Season. Philip also reflects on the practice of writing, taking on risk and the unexpected spaces that writing creates. Listen to the discussion
ABC Radio National
Philip Salom in conversation
Philip Salom discussed his new novel The Fifth Season with essayist and critic James Ley in a Zoom event hosted by Readings bookshop. A recording of the event is now available on YouTube. This article on Lisa Hill’s ANZLit Lovers LitBlog gives you the essentials of the discussion.
By Philip Salom
The Fifth Season
Jack retreats to an Airbnb cottage in a small coastal town. As a writer he is pre-occupied with the phenomenon of found people: the Somerton Man, the Gippsland Man, the Isdal Woman, people who are found dead – their identities unknown or erased – and the mysterious pull this has on the public mind.
In Blue Bay, as well as encountering the town’s colourful inhabitants, Jack befriends Sarah, whose sister Alice is one of the many thousands of people who go missing every year. Sarah has been painting her sister’s likeness in murals throughout the country, hoping that Alice will be found. Then Jack discovers a book about the people of the town, and about Sarah, which was written by a man who called himself Simon. Who once lived in the same cottage and created a backyard garden comprised of crazy mosaics. Until he too disappeared.
While Sarah’s life seems beholden to an ambiguous grief, Jack’s own condition is unclear. Is he writing or dying? In The Fifth Season Philip Salom brings his virtuoso gifts for storytelling, humour and character to an unforgettable novel about the tenuousness of life and what it means to be both lost and found.
‘Philip Salom … dissects the vulnerabilities of the human condition (loneliness, fear of intimacy, powerlessness, guilt), the power of the past to haunt us, the fear of the future to mire us, and the redemptive effects of love and acceptance.’
Miles Franklin Award Judges
‘An immensely wise, witty, recognisable and haunting story ’
Philip Salom is a contemporary Australian poet and novelist whose books have attracted widespread acclaim. He has published eighteen books – fourteen collections of poetry and five novels – notable for their originality and expansiveness and for surprising differences from title to title.
Salom’s new novel THE FIFTH SEASON is published by Transit Lounge.
The Returns is a story about the eccentricities, failings and small triumphs that humans are capable of, a novel that pokes fun at literary and artistic pretensions, while celebrating the expansiveness of art, kindness and friendship.
The Returns was a finalist in the 2020 Miles Franklin Award
Waiting is a story of two odd couples in prose as marvellously idiosyncratic as its characters.
Waiting was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction.
Toccata and Rain
The confused last few years of a man who has suffered a dissociative disorder… a man who has flown from one life into another, then fallen, back into his original self. The novel traces his attempts to make sense of who he is and what he has lived while in a self largely hidden from conscious awareness but (possibly) recoverable through hypnosis.
Toccata and Rain was shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal and the WA premier’s Prize.
There is no greater honour than to be genuinely marginal, out of the way, not part of a powerful institution, your own person, alive