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Introduction by Drusilla Modjeska
I want to die. I do not want to be mad…It is like my body is a house, and some visitor has come, and attacked the person who lived there.
After an Australian patrol officer commits suicide on a remote New Guinea island in 1959, five witnesses are called to a government inquiry. Each has a disturbing story to tell: strand by strand, the mystery of the officer’s past is unravelled. But what of other visitants, like the unidentified flying object and the cargo cult it has inspired on the island? Informed by Randolph Stow’s experiences, Visitants is an original, astonishing investigation of colonialism.
‘My interest in and admiration for Visitants lies in the rigour and brilliance of its form. It is a novel of voices—echoes, rumours, languages understood and misunderstood—given to us with no controlling narrator. We must come to understand the complex narrative of intersecting plots through the pattern of voices, half Dimdim—as white people are called in that part of Papua—and half Kiriwina, as they weave back and forth, among, around and against each other.’ Read Drusilla Modjeska's introduction published at the Sydney Review of Books.
‘Visitants is a visionary attempt to enfold history and myth as a way of transcending cultural difference.’ Nicholas Jose
Read a feature in the Australian on Stow’s legacy by Nicolas Rothwell.
‘A brilliant, ambitious novel.’
‘Tautly and vibrantly written, and brilliantly evocative of its Trobriand Islands setting.’
‘Storytelling at its very best…An extraordinary novel.’
‘It is a rare pleasure for those of us who are already fans to have these works at our disposal…[Stow was] the most talented and celebrated Australian author of the post-White generation.’
‘It should be taken as no commentary on contemporary Oz Lit that I choose Text’s fistful of Randolph Stow reissues for my local favourite(s) during 2015. Their appearance reminds us that a gentle, wise, wounded, and immensely talented poet in prose once lived among us.‘
‘Stow is an exceptional writer, truly gifted at capturing the natural environment as well as the essential physical and psychological characteristics of his characters. What makes his work memorable however is his examination of human connections…Beautiful.’