More than twenty years after the classic The Transit of Venus, Shirley Hazzard returns to fiction with a novel that in the words of Ann Patchett "is brilliant and dazzling..."
The Great Fire is an extraordinary love story set in the immediate aftermath of the great conflagration of the Second World War. In war-torn Asia and stricken Europe, men and women, still young but veterans of harsh experience, must reinvent their lives and expectations, and learn, from their past, to dream again. Some will fulfill their destinies, others will falter. At the center of the story, a brave and brilliant soldier finds that survival and worldly achievement are not enough. His counterpart, a young girl living in occupied Japan and tending her dying brother, falls in love, and in the process discovers herself.
In the looming shadow of world enmities resumed, and of Asia's coming centrality in world affairs, a man and a woman seek to recover self-reliance, balance, and tenderness, struggling to reclaim their humanity. The Great Fire is a story of love in the aftermath of war by "purely and simply, one of the greatest writers working in English today." (Michael Cunningham) The Great Fire is the winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction.
About the AuthorView
Shirley Hazzard was born in Australia, and in early years traveled the world with her parents due to their diplomatic postings. At sixteen, living in Hong Kong, she was engaged by British Intelligence, where, in 1947-48, she was involved in monitoring the civil war in China. Thereafter, she lived in New Zealand and in Europe; in the United States, where she worked for the United Nations Secretariat in New York; and in Italy. In 1963, she married the writer Francis Steegmuller, who died in 1994.
Ms. Hazzard's novels are "The Evening of the Holiday" (1966), "The Bay of Noon" (1970), "The Transit of Venus" (1981) and "The Great Fire" (2003). She is also the author of two collections of short fiction, "Cliffs of Fall and Other Stories" (1963) and "People in Glass Houses "(1967). Her nonfiction works include "Defeat of an Ideal "(1973), "Countenance of Truth" (1990), and the memoir" Greene on Capri "(2000). She lives in New York, with sojourns in Italy.