Giveaway – To Sing of War by Catherine McKinnon

Inspired by McKinnon’s own family history, To Sing of War is a rich, compelling and intricately woven novel of love, war, and friendship, perfect for readers of Anthony Doerr, Richard Flanagan, Shirley Hazzard and Barbara Kingsolver.

December 1944: In New Guinea, a young Australian nurse, Lotte Wyld, chances upon her first love, Virgil Nicholson, there to fight the Japanese and keen to prove his worth as a man. Against the backdrop of a hard-fought jungle campaign, the two negotiate their troubled past.

Meanwhile, in Los Alamos, young physicists Miriam Carver and Fred Johnson join Robert Oppenheimer and a team of brilliant scientists in a collective dream to build a weapon that will stop all war, with Oppenheimer also juggling the competing demands of the American military and his clever wife, Kitty. Far away, on the sacred island of Miyajima, Hiroko Narushima helps her husband’s grandmother run a ryokan, however, when one of her daughters encounters danger, Hiroko must act to ensure her family’s safety.

Each of these people yearns to belong, yet each fiercely protects their independence. Secrets, misunderstandings and fears burden them, shame shapes them, hope and imagination lift them up. They are caught in a moment of history, both enthralled and appalled by actions they must undertake. The novel asks what we can learn from this time, when a weapon of mass destruction changed the nature of war and made irreversible changes to our planet. How does fear shape our behaviour, affect our moral being? What is unforgiveable, in love and war, and what must be forgiven? How can one person make a difference in a world that is wondrous, thrilling and endangered?

To Sing of War is a beautifully rich novel of death, sacrifice and forgiveness, a novel that insists on our interconnectedness and hums with the energy of the world.

About the author

Catherine McKinnon lives in the Southern Highlands with her husband, painter and sculptor Gary Christian. She teaches creative writing at the University of Wollongong. Her novel Storyland (Fourth Estate, 2017) was shortlisted for five literary awards including, in 2018, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Barbara Jefferis Award and the Voss Literary Prize. Merrigong Theatre has commissioned an adaption of the novel, to be co-written by Catherine and Aunty Barb Nicholson.

Catherine is one of the authors of 100 Atmospheres: Studies in Scale and Wonder (Open Humanities Press, 2019) and was co-winner of the 2015 competition that selected five novellas for publication in Griffith Review 50: Tall Tales Short—The Novella Project 111. Her first novel, The Nearly Happy Family, was published by Penguin in 2008. Her plays have been produced nationally and her short stories, reviews and essays have appeared in Griffith Review, Text Journal, Meanjin, Narrative and the Sydney Morning Herald.

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Contest ends 12 June at 5pm AEST. Good luck!

6 thoughts on “Giveaway – To Sing of War by Catherine McKinnon”

  1. This book is very appealing given I have recently visited Hiroshima and Miyajima and have a Japanese friend in Tokyo. The catastrophic impact of decisions made by political and defence personnel in war on local citizens is profound.

  2. I am curious to read this story having recently discovered an Aussie relative who met her NZ love in France at the close of WW1.
    She followed him to a plantation in Rabaul. They married and were briefly happy until WW2. The Japanese invasion of New Guinea forced them to flee with only the clothes they were wearing. One of them was injured mortally.

    Love is so fleeting but also intense during times of war.


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