Published: 16 August 2012
Daring local novelist a feature of Brisbane festival
A Brisbane writer described as one of Australia's most daring novelists will feature at the up-coming Brisbane Writers Festival.
Dr Venero Armanno, Senior Lecturer in Writing at The University of Queensland, is due to discuss his new novel, Black Mountain, at the annual festival that runs from September 5 to 9.
Black Mountain was published this month by UQ Press.
The Bulletin magazine has described Armanno as "one of the most versatile and daring of Australian novelists", and his latest offering is no different, tackling the controversial topic of eugenics – the science of ‘improving' the qualities of the human species or a human population through genetic modification.
“Even a cursory look at the field reveals there was a lot of thought going into this long before the advent of maniacs such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Mengele,” Dr Armanno said.
He was surprised to discover that eugenics research and activities have been around for centuries.
“In fact, a major branch of this pseudo-science was in operation in California and about 27 or 28 other states during the early twentieth century. The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.”
Based on factual events and ranging through Italy, Paris and the rural fringes of coastal Australia, Black Mountain tells of a journey through the bizarre world of genetics and the quest for health, beauty, and eternal life.
Some reviewers have compared it to Kazuo Ishiguro's award-winning novel, Never Let Me Go, which also explores the area of eugenics.
Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap, has said Black Mountain is "an eerie and compelling read ... Like the best of fiction, it remains with you long after you have finished".
“The story begins in the sulphur mines of Sicily over a century ago where we meet Sette, a small boy sold into slavery,” Dr Armanno said.
“Sicily's notorious sulphur fields were one of the world's main sources for the sulphur needed to manufacture armaments. In those days the island was experiencing terrible poverty, and the poorest families were known to sell their sons into virtual slave labour with the miners.
“The boys were young, often starting work around nine or ten years of age. They were poorly fed and worked in inhuman conditions. Few survived past the ages of thirteen or fourteen,” he said.
Armanno is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including Romeo of the Underworld and The Volcano.
Black Mountain is available at all good bookshops and online from the UQ Press website.
Venero Armanno is also on Facebook.
Details of Brisbane Writers Festival events can be found here: http://www.brisbanewritersfestival.com.au/.
Media: Publicist Susan Hornbeck (0434 01 30 80 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
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