Words by TAHLIA NELSON
Attention: All students currently undertaking a writing degree, arts degree, or indeed any course of uncertain outcome. Do you often ponder your future as a struggling creative, living on crumbs and failure? I am here to tell you that there is hope for us yet! Christine Piper, a UTS Graduate, has recently been awarded The Australian/Vogel Literary Award for her debut novel, After Darkness.
Originally written as part of her Doctorate of Creative Arts at UTS, the story follows the experiences of Tomakazu Ibaraki, a Japanese doctor who finds himself detained at the Loveday internment camp in Australia during World War II. Located in a remote corner of South Australia, the camp becomes home to a diverse and somewhat divided group of men, who together come to form a sort of community, connected by mutual isolation. Ibaraki himself is a compelling character, an honourable and unfailingly gentle man. As Piper expertly leads us deeper into his story, we are able to collect details of his past, and come to understand the way that trauma and regret continue to inform his future.
The tale is written clearly and is easy to follow despite its non-linear structure, and in any case it is an important story to tell. Piper provides an interesting human perspective on the civilian impact of World War II for anyone interested in learning more about this time in our national history. Dealing with themes of discretion and loyalty, of patriotism and personal honour, After Darkness explores the potentially devastating consequences of such ideals on the life of one well-meaning man.