Puncher & Wattmann
by Subhash Jaireth
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Don’t be deceived by this tardis of a book, its three small monologues contain multitudes. Through the gently detailed lives of its subjects whole civilisations emerge: the fifteenth-century India of the dying and illiterate poet, Kabir; the Stalinist Russia of Chekhov’s younger sister, Maria; and the early seventeenth-century, Inquisition-ravaged Italy of the Calabrian theologian and poet, Tommaso Campanella. The characters, at the end of their lives, are haunted by their pasts, and in prose of simple, meditative, elegiac beauty, Jaireth suggests that this nostalgia is neither a longing for a lost place or a lost time, but is, rather, a homelessness in time – his own included – an uneasiness that has driven all that they have and have not done. The book is ultimately about the mystery of creation itself, the silence from which all things come and to which they inevitably return.
— John Hughes
Subhash Jaireth lives in Canberra. Between 1969 and 1978 he spent nine years in Moscow. He has published three books of poetry: Yashodhara: Six Seasons without You (Wild Peony, 2003), Unfinished Poems for Your Violin (Penguin Australia, 1996) and Before the Bullet Hit Me (Vani Prakashan, 1994, in Hindi).