Every once in a while, you get to read something so sparklingly creative, unique and authentic that it makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, makes your skin tingle. Wisdom Tree is that.
Together these novellas create a 21st century world in which five families struggle and resolve the tension of our time: balancing the desire for fame and fortune with the obligations and responsibility, and the love to be found in everyday family life.
Five pocket travel-guide sized booklets make up Nick Earls’ Wisdom Tree, a collection of interrelated novellas. Reinforcing the ‘travel’ connection are the individual titles: 1 Gotham, 2 Venice, 3 Vancouver, 4 Juneau, and 5 NoHo (North Hollywood, Los Angeles). And each novella could easily be read on a plane trip or a long train commute. More importantly, Earls' novellas seem formally apposite to the contemporary experience he frames, more complex than fragments of micro fiction might allow, yet not so extended as to fill the deeper social and thematic dimensions of realistic novels. Comfortably populated with recognizably Australian characters from varied walks of life, and enticing composed conversational scenes, the novellas achieve a delightful heteroglossia and linguistic polyphony, the equal of any modern novel.
Earls’ stories are infused with a poignant sense of the longings and compromises of his characters as they oscillate between 21st century global destinations which promise excitement and success, and the more mundane possibilities of home and family. Although the interest in the narratives is formed by the instabilities which challenge the characters, an almost Buddhist acceptance of things as they are is an underling theme—in this perhaps, lies Wisdom. Earls observed that the idea for Gotham formed when he understood how the individual stories of characters came together: “That’s the novella, these two stories circling each other, sparing with each other, coming together in, I hope, unexpected ways.”
Nick Earls writes long, short and medium-sized fiction, so far tallying 26 books for adults, teenagers and children.
He is the winner of a number of awards, including a Betty Trask Award (UK) and Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. His Wisdom Tree novellas have won gold medals in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the eLit Book Awards in the US, the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and an Australian Book Design Award.
Earls has also written for newspapers, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald.
His novels have appeared on bestseller lists in Australia, the UK and the Amazon Kindle Store.
He was born in Northern Ireland, but has spent most of his life in Australia. In 2012, the Age included him among its top ten Greatest Living Australians (along with Bob Hawke, Warwick Capper and Shane Warne). He placed 12th in a 2013 poll of Australia’s all-time favourite novelists.