To buy my novel, Figurehead, hassle (chat politely with) your local bookseller. For e-book options, see the Black Inc. website. Figurehead was longlisted for the 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Reviews of Figurehead
‘Figurehead is almost, but not quite, a historical novel: its relationship to reality is knottier than that. It would be better described as para-fiction: fiction that nearly rhymes with the real. Its inventions are not just speculative amalgam – tall tales and hearsay to plug gaps in the historical record – but a leap, made from real-world specificity into the abstract universals of literature. …
Allington’s achievement is to dance lightly across this subject matter, despite its horrors. Just as the novel’s epigraph – a passage from the film criticism of James Agee – describes a scene where silent-film legend Buster Keaton is obliged to run on the side-wheel of a ferry to avoid drowning, Figurehead’s author brings a furious poise to his treatment of Cambodia’s killing fields. The narrative is almost absurdist at times, like a play by Eugene Ionesco or Vaclav Havel (in one exquisite scene, Ted, a pianist, accompanies Sihanouk while the prince plays Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore on his clarinet). But the weirdness is always kept
within realist bounds; it never disclaims the terrible reality of those years.’
– Geordie Williamson in The Australian
‘In his brilliant debut novel, Patrick Allington takes the machinations of political history, specifically the appalling years of Cambodia’s revolution, gravely enough to delineate them with great elegance, a deal of informed cynicism, and trenchant comprehension. Yet, as his statesman characters waspishly trade jokes against the almost unspoken background of mass killings and the near-obliteration of a nation, muse acidly to themselves on Realpolitik and merrily bat badminton shuttlecocks on an airfield as they hear of their own downfall, the sense one gets from this satire … is of mischievous, and yet not offensive, wit. And cool condemnation, although Allington is too subtle to labour any of the issues in this deft, wonderfully original and unsettling
look at the follies of ego and the fallibility of idealism. … With its Kundera touch, suave style and assured scepticism, Figurehead fascinates, appalls, and introduces an impressive talent.’
– Kate Holden in The Age
‘Risky, bold and evocative absurdist version of Cambodian history that casts entertaining and thoughtprovoking light on the way history is reported.’
– The Advertiser, Best Books 2009
‘This book avoids easy ideology, instead showing the complexity of realpolitik, the bargains we make to survive. An impressive debut.’
– Lucy Sussex in The Sunday Age
‘The premise is unusual and potentially dicey, but Allington’s remarkably polished dibut somehow makes it work.’
– James Ley in Australian Book Review (‘Best Books of the Year’)
‘The boundary between truth and history has always been elastic but novelist Patrick Allington uses the middle ground as a trampoline, gleefully leaping between what is plausibly known and what is demonstrably invented.’
– Conrad Walters in the Sydney Morning Herald
‘Allington’s characters are no straw men; in his hands the political figureheads of the title become inescapably and fleshily human, daring the reader to look them in the eyes.’
– Alexandra Coghlan in The Monthly
‘Patrick Allington has an imagination which plays with the art of the possible so assuredlhy he locks us into a complicity to keep watching, however appalled, the cast of raging or sublimating narcissists, yes-men and souring idealists who carry his story.’
– Robert Lumsden in The Adelaide Review
An extract from my novel-in-progress, Potatoes in all their glory, appeared in The Melbourne Review, January 2013:.
My recent short stories include:
‘At Halo’, in The Melbourne Review, January 2014.
‘At Rothko’, in Kill Your Darlings, 12, 2013.
‘Skylights’ in Griffith Review, 30 (Fiction Edition), 2010.
‘Trumpet’ in Issue 359, The Big Issue (‘Toasty Tales’ Fiction Special).
‘Snapsots’, in Griffith Review 14 (‘The Trouble With Paradise’).
‘Facades’, in Meanjin, Summer 2009 (68, 4).
My essays, columns, profiles and review have appeared widely, including in Australian Book Review,
The Advertiser (Adelaide), The Weekend Australian, The Monthly, The Melbourne Review, The Big Issue and elsewhere. My major essay on the Miles Franklin Literary Award, written as the inaugural Australian Book Review Fellow, was published in June 2011. You can read it in full here.
I am an experienced editor. I was the inaugural fiction editor of Etchings, the Melbourne-based literary
magazine published by Ilura Press (issues 1 to 6): http://www.ilurapress.com/. I was Commissioning Editor at the University of Adelaide Press.