Castro has been linked with Patrick White because, like White, he is an intellectual, deeply ironic, modernist writer. He has acknowledged his debt to White as a writer who demonstrated how to protest against ‘the national unawareness’, and taught him to be ‘blackly playful’ (‘Twice Born’ 69). On a broader canvas, Castro’s writing can also be comfortably situated within a wider circle of (largely European) modernist works by Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, Gustav Flaubert, Vladimir Nabokov, W. G. Sebald—the list goes on. Castro’s writing conducts richly intertextual conversations with these writers and their work. This study of Castro’s writing seeks to elucidate some of those conversations while identifying some of Castro’s imaginative concerns and strategies.
To date, Castro has published eight novels: Birds of Passage (1983), Pomeroy (1990), Double-Wolf (1991), After China (1992), Drift (1994), Stepper (1997), Shanghai Dancing (2003) and The Garden Book (2005). His ninth, The Bath Fugues, will be published in 2009. These novels have won numerous state and national prizes including the Australian/Vogel literary award, The Age Fiction Prize, the National Book Council Prize for Fiction, four Victorian Premier’s awards, two New South Wales Premier’s awards and the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction. A number of them have also been translated into Chinese, French, and German. The French translation of Birds of Passage, Les Oiseaux de Passage, appeared in 1998; the Chinese edition, Piaobo de niao, in 1991. The Chinese translation of After China, Ling yipian haitan, was published in 1995 with the French translation, L’Architecte Chinois, following in 2003. In 2009 Shanghai Dancing will be published in Chinese. The German translation of Pomeroy was published in 1998. The next year Stepper, under the title Stepper oder Die Kunst der Spionage, was published in Germany. Castro has also published over thirty essays. Thirteen of these essays have been gathered together with an evocative photo-essay by Peter Lyssiotis in Looking for Estrellita (1999).1In addition, Castro has collaborated in the stage adaptation of After China in 1998, written another stage and radio play, Secrets (1994), the radio play Nightsafe Area (1995), and two short stories ‘You Must Remember This’ (1993) and ‘Hopscotch’ (1999).