Tim Winton’s new novel begins as an exercise in macho lyricism. His narrator, Bruce Pike, isn’t much of a talker and likes books that deal not with human interaction but with ‘plants and the formation of ice and the business of world wars’. When Pike and his best friend Loonie meet an older man named Sando, the latter’s own library gives another clue to the nature of this novel: Jack London, Conrad, Melville, Hans Hass, Cousteau, Lao tzu, Carlos Castaneda.
Winton has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, for The Riders (1995) and Dirt Music (2002). Whether this novel repeats his earlier success will depend partly on whether this year’s jury accept his connection of surfing to