Philip Salom lives in North Melbourne, Australia. In 2020 his novel The Returns was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. His novel Waiting was also shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2017 and the Prime Minister’s Award and the Victorian Premiers Prize. Toccata and Rain was shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal and the WA Premiers Prize for Fiction, and Playback won the WA Premiers Prize for Fiction. His poetry books have twice won: the Commonwealth Poetry Book Prize in London and the Western Australia Premiers Prize for Poetry. In 2003 he won the Christopher Brennan Award, Australia’s lifetime award for poets, acknowledging ‘poetry of sustained quality and distinction’. His fourteenth collection Alterworld is a trilogy of Sky Poems, The Well Mouth and Alterworld – three imagined worlds. His fifth novel aptly titled The Fifth Season will be released in November 2020.
The Fifth Season
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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 a haunting and unforgettable novel about the tenuousness of life and what it means to be both lost and found.
‘An immensely wise, witty, recognisable and haunting story.’
This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.