Transit Lounge, 2020
- 2020 Miles Franklin Award
- 2020 Queensland Premier’s Prize
Elizabeth posts a ‘room for rent’ notice in Trevor’s bookshop and is caught off-guard when Trevor answers the advertisment himself. She expected a young student, not a middle-aged bookseller whose marriage has fallen apart. But Trevor is attracted to Elizabeth’s house because of the empty shed in her backyard, the perfect space for him to revive the artistic career he abandoned years earlier. The face-blind, EH Holden-driving Elizabeth is a solitary and feisty book editor, and she accepts him, on probation…
Miles Franklin finalist Philip Salom has a gift for depicting the inner states of his characters with empathy and insight.
In this poignant yet upbeat novel, the past keeps returning in the most unexpected ways. Elizabeth is at the beck and call of her ageing mother, and the associated memories of her childhood in a Rajneesh community.
Trevor’s Polish father disappeared when Trevor was fifteen, and his mother died not knowing whether he was dead or alive. The authorities have declared him dead, but is he?
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.
Praise for The Returns
The ‘returns’ of the title include Trevor’s father (long ago declared legally dead) abandoned talents and ways of seeing – but also the restoration of confidence, love and feeling that life is worth living and chances worth taking. This novel is a celebration of the most humble and unsung …The pithy observations, authentic dialogue and keenly rendered characterisation give weight to even the most minor of players and celebrate the poetry of ordinary existence. There is a joyousness in the author’s use of the well-turned phrase that makes this slice-of-life novel a delight to read, not least of all because of its spirit of generosity…
Miles Franklin Award Judges 2020
Stephanie Convert, The Guardian
Jen Web, The Conversation
If Salom’s willingness to resist the ordinary course of narrative action is a tonic, it is also the thoughtfullness with which he does so that counts most. This is not a difficult novel for it’s own sake; it is lucid and smooth, paced at an easy lope. But the questions it asks of itself are as thorny and complex as anything in Australian literature.
Geordie Williamson, The Australian
Though this is a serious novel about love, memory, trauma, and relationships – classic tropes of literary fiction that Salom explores with psychological acuity– the work is consistently funny.
Salom goes deep into the minds of his characters, moving seamlessly between them and allowing their natural wittiness and insights to bubble up through the text. The writing is consistently rich and beautiful with the tight lyricism of poetry, even when it becomes deliciously bawdy. The Returns reads easily but has the transformative power of the most dense of novels. This is a novel to read once for the fun of it, and again for its sheer literary sumptuousness. It may seem, at first glance, like a simple story about two lost souls who heal one another through friendship, but like all of Salom’s work, The Returns is perfectly written, powerful exploration of friendship, dignity and love.
Magdelena Bull, The Compulsive Reader
James Ley, Sydney Review of Books
Salom is using the framework of the realist novel to explore ideas that might — at least some of them— lead to despair, but in the end, the reader is left with the sense of a warm and generous writerly consciousness, ruminating about the human condition and its possibilities for happiness in spite of everything.
Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Age
A tightly plotted story with a knowing and satirical edge … rich with character and change.
Brenda Walker, Australian Book Review
HC Gilfind, TEXT Journal
Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers