'During the early 1950s, many young Australians made the traditional pilgrimage to Europe by ship. Meanwhile, a wave og post-war European migrants was coming the other way: 'Displaced Persons'; refugees from the havoc of the Second World War.
'Ilsa Kalnins, the Latvian showgirl, is one such refugee. Robert O'Brien is a sheltered young Australian, running away from the tedium and security of a country that is still almost wholly insular and Anglo-Saxon. Ilsa, disturbed and disturbing, exerts a fascination over Robert that changes the voyage and his life. He is never to reach Europe: instead they travel through India together. Ahead is catastrophe, as each seeks in the other answers that cannot be found.' (Publication summary)
A book chapter placing Christopher Koch's novel Across the Sea Wall in the cultural setting of 1965.
'Geographical isolation and innate curiosity have long motivated Australians to leave their shores and travel far and wide to broaden their horizons and experience cultural and social differences with countries established long before explorers began to map Australia. As well as responding to the touristic impulse, there is also the patriotic one of planting Australia’s name abroad, particularly in times of war. This essay looks at the writings of some of the travellers who converged on India, long before the hippy trail of the 1970s, through a historical lens, and compares these writings with a sample of those written later in the 20th century and the shifts in their perceptions and social and cultural awareness which evolved in modern times. India, which had long been purely a brief stopover on the P&O route for Australians, became a desirable place in its own right in the late 20th century, a mysterious subcontinent that signified high adventure and the exoticism of the other.' (Introduction)
'Author of six novels, Christopher John Koch (born in 1932) is one of Australia’s leading novelists who enjoys worldwide recognition. Koch’s writing has its finger on the pulse of today’s changing society. Not only does his work fall within a universal stream but it also stands out as a production of its own, built like a puzzle with distinct pieces. Through fiction, Koch explores other genres – the fairy tale, drama, poetry – to the point of producing multi-faceted works which challenge classification. In spite of the constant renewal of his settings for action, one notices the presence of a main thread which runs through Koch’s fiction: the antipodean and ambiguous relationship between illusion and reality.
'This theoretically informed monograph provides a book-by-book analysis of the novelist’s œuvre and gives a full picture of his Weltanschauung. It is valuable reference for scholars in Australian Studies, as well as those researching postcolonial, psychoanalytic and literary theories.
'This book is winner of the Excellence Award 2009 by the THESE-PAC jury (le prix THESE-PAC, Prix Jean-Pierre Piérard) in the South Pacific-Australasia category.'