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Tim Winton's Breath, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, is a story about the wildness of youth and learning to live with its passing.

When paramedic Bruce Pike is called out to deal with another teenage adventure gone wrong, he knows better than his colleague, better than the kid's parents, what happened and how. Thirty years before, that dead boy could have been him.

A relentlessly gripping and deeply moving novel about the damage you do to yourself when you're young and think you're immortal.

Reviews

Some writers just keep getting better.

The Australian

It’s unlikely Winton has ever written as well as he writes in Breath . . . Its seeming simplicity is deceptive, for beneath its pared-back surfaces lies all the steel of a major novelist operating at full throttle in a territory he has spent 25 years making his own.

James Bradley, The Age

An absorbing, powerful and deeply beautiful novel, a meditation on surfing which becomes a rumination about the very stuff of existence.

Helen Gordon, The Observer

This brilliant book may well turn out to be the finest thing that Winton has done.

Andrew Reimer, Sydney Morning Herald

A novelist who, to a peerless degree, has learnt how to do it . . . Breath seems to cut through everything, and to speak with unusual honesty.

Philip Hensher, The Spectator (UK)

Breath is about moving out of your depth, getting in over your head, having your soul damaged beyond repair . . . But against all this pointless sorrow, there remains the evanescent beauty of the world, and Winton matches that with limitlessly beautiful prose.

Carolyn See, Washington Post

His best to date. It is written with great tenderness and sympathy and rhythmic energy, and structured with immense skill.

Colm Tóibín, The Guardian (UK)

A masterpiece . . . It is difficult to avoid superlatives in any honest summary of the importance of this novel. It will surely be a classic of Australian literature, enjoyed and admired by all who read it.

Jason Catlett, Time Out (Sydney)

I loved it – Tom Sawyer searching for Moby-Dick in a David Lynch film.

Kerry Shale, BBC Radio 4

Winton rides the line between terror, joy and hokum with exquisite balance . . . A tautly gorgeous meditation on the inescapable human addiction to “the monotony of drawing breath,” whether you want to or not.

Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times

A wonderfully uplifting novel . . . May the Lord make us truly thankful for Tim Winton.

Melissa Katsoulis, The Telegraph (UK)

Unforgettable.

Malcolm Knox, The Monthly

At one level Breath is a marvellously evocative remembrance of things past . . . The great distinction of Winton’s novel lies, however, in areas more abstract, poetic and disturbing . . . Breath discloses itself as a grand metaphysical fable but one so tactful and restrained that it would be easy to miss its boldness and complexity. The novel’s complexity is poetic, psychological and ethical. Winton’s descriptions of changing seas and changing seasons are outstanding . . . There is nothing frivolous or superficial here . . . Like all literature worthy of the name, Breath does not impose choices or solutions but draws its life-breath from paradox and ambivalence.

Andrew Reimer, Sydney Morning Herald

Small lives and big ideas, beautifully communicated: this is Winton’s province and, with Breath, he reigns over it once again.

Lucy Clark, Sunday Telegraph

Absolutely brilliant. Winton is better than any living novelist I can think of at describing physical sensations.

Peter Kemp, BBC Radio 4

Like Hardy’s Wessex or Faulkner’s Mississippi, the Western Australian landscape has been consecrated by Tim Winton’s fiction . . . [Breath] treats elemental themes of fear and friendship, loneliness and boredom, the lure and danger of life lived intensely, the broken promises of adolescence sliding into middle age . . . Its lyricism is exquisite but never effete or affected. While Breath deals with primal, mythic conflicts – the clash of wilderness and civilization, self and society, youth and age – it does not strain for epic effect.

Rónán McDonald, Times Literary Supplement

In the hands of an immensely skilful and experienced novelist such as Winton, the old stories can often be the most powerful . . . Having established this blissed-out idyll of sun and sea, this splendour among the waves, Winton darkens the mood and cranks up the tension with a sure, slow hand . . . Winton’s subtle, elegant telling . . . holds the elements of innocence and experience, adventure and self-destruction, in a convincingly and delicately mysterious balance, making for a novel that lingers long in the mind.

Adam Lively, The Sunday Times (UK)

This epic surfing novel is framed inside a merciless portrayal of human stupidity and propensity for self-harm . . . Tough, visceral lyricism. Winton on a wave is irresistible.

Andy Martin, The Independent (UK)

About nothing less than the infirm glory of the human condition and the damage left in the wake of tasting the limits set for our human frame . . . An exquisitely calibrated account of the different costs paid for momentarily vaulting over and beyond the human . . . Has the sensibility and reach of an epic . . . Breath is not a novel about the addictive nature of adrenaline but an exploration of whether one can find one’s depth once the entire ocean of experience has been redefined.

Neel Mukherjee, Scotland on Sunday

Charged with physical danger, physical courage, and Winton’s brand of rugged introspection . . . Meticulously, intensely careful in its composition. Breath is distilled Winton.

Cathleen Schine, New York Review of Books

Breath shares with Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach that sense of a good if compromised life lived in the aftermath of decisions made without adequate preparation . . . Winton is a writer in commanding mid-career form paring his art down to its essentials. Small in scale and local in focus, Breath nonetheless achieves epic scope.

Ian McGillis, Montreal Gazette

Winton’s gift for rendering something extraordinary out of ordinary lives is beautifully apparent . . . As powerful and heart-rending a story about youth as you’ll find.

David Gaunt, Bookseller & Publisher

Masterful.

The Herald Sun

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780143785989

    April 16, 2018

    Penguin

    288 pages

    RRP $26.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • Paperback

    9780143009580

    April 29, 2009

    Penguin

    288 pages

    RRP $30.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook

    9781742536996

    September 14, 2012

    Penguin eBooks

    268 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ