cover image The Hanging Garden

The Hanging Garden

Patrick White. Picador, $15 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-250-02852-5

This final, unfinished novel by Nobel laureate White (The Eye of the Storm) cements the late author’s reputation as an incisive and compassionate voice of the 20th century. An elegiac portrait of two adolescents displaced during WWII, the novel guides the reader through multiple points of view, including Eirene Sklavos, brought to Australia after her father’s death in a Greek prison, and Gilbert Horsfall, who witnessed the death of his friend in the Blitz and attempts to integrate into an unwelcoming community. White’s prose is masterful, describing in surprising and ebullient turns of phrase everything from the book’s eponymous garden to “thick-lensed spectacles [that] might be helping him not to see the faces he is addressing.” The novel was transcribed from White’s original handwritten manuscript and left unedited, retaining his notes (“Find out about these mangroves”) and the occasional false line. However, the roughness and the notes make a separation of author and text impossible, and reveal White to be as sympathetic and fascinating as Eirene and Gilbert. What White has left is a complete, complex, and beautiful portrait, an important addition to classic contemporary fiction. (May)