Published 19 Feburary 2022
368pp Paperback book with dust jacket
Nick MacLean, heir to an old Australian farming family, is captured by mujahideen fighters while on a trek in the mountains of Kashmir. For the Mujahid, their commander, this captive is a nuisance—yet, having tasted the West while studying in London, he is drawn into conversation with the Australian. Nick comes to understand that, despite the distance between them, they share a common bond.
Waiting against hope to be ransomed, Nick is also shackled to profound memories— of his parents’ unrealistic expectations of him, and of his sister, Lilly, left solely responsible for a property now in drought and decline. Most of all he is haunted by his youthful friendship with Richard Connolly, the able son of a stockman, who watched with frustration as Nick denied himself the advantages of his birth.
Sandy Gordon has written widely as an expert on security and intelligence. When he finished his last academic book in 2014, he vowed never to write another footnote. Instead, he embarked on the imaginative journey of crafting this first novel, A vital chronicle of pivotal changes in Australian society during the second half of the 20th century, a journey that is also paralleled by the increasingly intense clash between Western cultural and economic power and traditional Islam.
After completing a PhD at Cambridge, Sandy worked in the Office of National Assessments, and as Executive Director of the Asian Studies Council. More recently, he became Defence Fellow at the Australian National University, then head of intelligence in the Australian Federal Police. Later he lectured at various universities on South Asia and regional security.
Julian Davies, publisher at Finlay Lloyd and editor of Leaving Owl Creek, interviews Sandy Gordon about his work. Here, you can watch the full length interview or a shorter collection of extracts.
“A classic Australian story of great ambition and sweep.”
“A wise and beautiful book about the quest for honour, truth and love.”
“Sandy Gordon’s novel is a snapshot of post-war Australia, with its country-town gentry and Catholic socialists, with its cities where young intellectuals were learning to drink, to protest the Vietnam war, take on big ideas, and take the most dangerous drugs. Sometimes with grim luck they’d find their way to love or something near it. How do we hold on to a youthful vision? How can we know how far we’ve compromised our best self before it’s too late? And what do you do when you discover you’re after all no smarter, no wiser, and almost no different from what you turned away from in your parents? It’s a novel for grown-ups about growing up—tough, true and vulnerable. Each character glows with life, and each one of them is worth caring about.”
“Gordon weaves a finely spun tapestry of social change in Australian life…”
“…a stylish combination of expertise and passion.”
Australian Financial Review
“Like the best books that chart tectonic changes, Leaving Owl Creek shows without judgement what
Australia used to be… Highly recommended!”
“Gordon’s novel has the potential to become an Australian classic in its vivid portrayal of a time of change…”
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