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This highly acclaimed collection of memoirs is Winton’s most intimate and revealing work yet. Along with Island Home and Land’s Edge (both also first published in paperback in 2017), it forms the remarkable culmination of Winton’s autobiographical trilogy, showing our finest novelist also to be one of our finest writers of non-fiction.

‘Being a copper’s son, I’ve always got one eye out for trouble. I can’t help it. But I don’t go looking for it anymore.’
In Tim Winton’s fiction, chaos shapes the lives of his characters. So too Winton’s own life. The extraordinarily powerful true stories that make up The Boy Behind the Curtain take us behind the scenes, revealing the accidents, both serendipitous and traumatic, that have influenced his view of life and fuelled his distinctive artistic vision.

By turns impassioned, funny, joyous, astonishing, this is Winton’s most personal book to date, an insight into the man who’s held us enthralled for three decades and helped us reshape our view of ourselves. Behind it all, from risk-taking youth to surprise-averse middle age, has been the crazy punt of staking everything on becoming a writer.


A dazzling book, full of wisdom and wonder . . . with a staggering, effortless sense of drama wherever you pick it up . . . No one is better than Tim Winton at giving dramatic substance to the interface between art and life . . . This is a rich and brilliant book

Peter Craven, Australian Book Review

The Boy Behind the Curtain roots you to the spot, forces you to ask questions – about yourself, about the way we live. Sinewy and lyrical by turns, Winton’s is an authentic Australian voice to trumpet to a world audience

Morag Fraser,, Australian Book Review

He makes complex art seem simple . . . A body of nonfiction work that is (unsurprisingly) beautiful and brilliant and provocative, and (surprisingly) revealing . . . It is this sight of the sacred in the ordinary that probably accounts for some part of why Winton's writing recedes from his imitators' reach

Malcolm Knox, Sydney Morning Herald

That Winton’s nonfiction is as lyrical as his fiction goes without saying

The Guardian (Australia)

Tim Winton’s 28th book proves the much-loved Australian writer just gets better with age

Woman’s Day

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    August 14, 2017


    320 pages

    RRP $30.00

    Online retailers

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

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

  • Hardback


    October 3, 2016

    Hamish Hamilton Australia

    320 pages

    RRP $50.00

    Online retailers

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

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

  • EBook


    October 3, 2016

    Penguin eBooks

    320 pages

    Online retailers

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


On the beach one day, as I was sliding my board back onto the tray of the ute and trying to clear my sinuses of salty water, an old neighbour who was passing by with his dog told me he didn’t know what people like me saw in surfing. He said, ‘I see youse blokes out there day and night. Any time I go past you’re just sittin there, bobbin around like moorin buoys. Tell me, Timmy, what’s the point?’ And I didn’t know how to answer. Almost every day of my life is shaped according to the weather, most acutely to swell, tide and wind direction. After surfing for fifty years, you’d think I’d be able to give a better account of myself. But there wasn’t much to tell him, because there is no point. Surfing is a completely pointless exercise. Perhaps that’s why I’m addicted to it. But he was right, my neighbour, God rest him. We go to the water every day and every hour we can. And most of what we do is wait.

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Awards and Recognition

  • Fellowship of Australian Writers Awards
    Excellence in Non Fiction Award
  • Australian Book Industry Awards
    Biography Book of the Year
  • Indie Book Awards
    Indie Book Awards

Also by Tim Winton

The Shepherd's Hut
In the Winter Dark
An Open Swimmer
Island Home
Land's Edge: A Coastal Memoir
Shrine: A Play in One Act
Blueback: Australian Children's Classics
Signs of Life: A Play In One Act
Lockie Leonard: Scumbuster
Lockie Leonard: Legend
The Turning
Dirt Music
The Riders
Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo
The Bugalugs Bum Thief: Aussie Bites
That Eye, The Sky
Minimum of Two


Rather His Own Man
The Prisoner
Finding My Virginity
Bon: The Last Highway
The Motherhood
When Breath Becomes Air
In Order To Live
Miss Ex-Yugoslavia
The First Casualty
There Is More
Lion: A Long Way Home
Young Hitler
Secrets for the Mad
The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind
The Line Becomes A River
The Diary Of A Young Girl
The Tale Of Peter Rabbit