‘Malini:Through My Eyes’ Allen and Unwin September, 2014
‘Malini’ by Robert Hillman is another worthy addition to the Through My Eyes series for middle school portraying present day children living in war zones. ‘Malini’ is set in Sri Lanka where soldiers round up children and heard them to the coast to act as a human shield. Malini’s father tells her to run into the forest with her little sister and then west to her grandfather’s village. A gripping story with plausible characters.” Roseanne Hawke.
Any novelist looking back is bound to notice not only themes that weren’t apparent at the time of writing, but frenzies and phobias and unexamined prejudices. In my novels, I seem to have been fascinated by the mayhem caused by big egos on the more modest egos around them. In A Life of Days, the central character creates havoc by pursuing his dreams to the parliament of heaven. In The Hour of Disguise, George Mintern trashes his thriving marriage in pursuit of a fresh identity. The plot of Sparrow Hill turns on the scheme of a charismatic egomaniac to commit the worst crime he can imagine, for the sake of his soul. The Deepest Part of the Lake tells the tale of a group of bored kids in a rural Victorian town who undertake a marathon swim to a fantasy land on a remote shore. The swim, which ends badly, is the ill-conceived idea of David Shaw, who draws the line between fantasy and reality more or less nowhere. In my memoir, The Boy in the Green Suit, I’m the madman, heading off at the age of sixteen to locate an island of fabled beauty in the Indian Ocean and ending up in an Iranian Prison in the Kerman desert Desert. Even in the biographies I’ve written – My Life as a Traitor, with Zarah Ghahramani, and The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif, with Najaf Mazari – I’ve thrown a strong light on the impossible aspirations of Zarah and Najaf, the one hoping to reform the hidebound Iranian regime by marching up and down with a hand-lettered sign, the other expecting to survive torture at the hands of the Taliban by singing the praises of pacifism. “I notice in my more recent novels, Joyful and Malini, I remain…..”
– I remain attracted to hopeless quests, chimeras, characters who are half human, half monster. But also to something quite new: happy endings.
The Deepest Part of the Lake
The Deepest Part of the Lake, Scribe Publications, 2001
“Robert Hillman emerges here…as a fine novelist. Not only does his book teem with engrossing characters, but it is crowded with voices narrating intimate tales with stinging authenticity…It really is good!” – Thomas Keneally
The Hour of Disguise
The Hour of Disguise, Simon and Schuster, 1990: “The Hour of Disguise turned out to be the best thing I’ve read in years and I privately awarded it the prize for The Book I Most Wish I’d Written.” Catherine Kenneally, Australian Book Review
A Life of Days
– A Life of Days, Angus and Roberston, 1988: “It has the spaciousness which results from the creation of a coherent, wholly imagined and imaginable world.” Janet Chimonyo, The Age
– Sparrow Hill, New Endeavour Press, 1997: “It’s not just a compelling story, but one that is rich in detail and characterisation, with enough dramatic tension to send several chills up through your perspiring body.” Mandy Sayer, The Australian
The Honey Thief
The Honey Thief. Wild Dingo Press, 2012: “Moving effortlessly from the oral to the written, from folktale to modern day fable, this beautiful, life-affirming book probes the heart and soul of a remarkable culture while paying homage to the universal power of story.” Arnold Zable
– The Honey Thief: Wild Dingo Press and Penguin US, 2012:
“The wisdom and enchantment of thousands of years are spun together in this vivid, beautifully written book…A wonderful account of the past in fiction…a joy to read.” Deborah Rodriguez, author of New York Times bestseller, Kabul Beauty School