Runner-up - Fiction - Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2007
Shortlisted - Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2007
Best Books in the South East Asia and South Pacific region.
An emotionally charged comedy of manners supremely elegant and funny but also with the power to shake the readers feelings.
Luke is a young diplomat on his first overseas posting. Hes in New York, preparing for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. His photo has appeared in the New York Times. He has a knack for success. Then he witnesses a crime, the fallout from which threatens everything.
His fainting spells return and he finds himself back in New Zealand, living on his sisters farm, caught up in another difficulty altogether, and involved in the life of a community whose personalities and rules of conduct he finds as bewitching and dizzying as anything experienced at the frontline of international diplomacy. By the end of his time there which takes the reader only halfway through this novel Luke has been asked the most testing questions about himself.
In the second part of the book, these questions return with a new and surprising urgency. The Fainter is a superb novel, beautifully written, bracingly funny, rich with cutting insight and cool compassion.
Praise for The Fainter
Book of the Week
After his second novel, Little Masters, Damien Wilkins had to be seen as one of our most accomplished writers. Chemistry confirmed that, and now his fifth novel makes it clear that he is here for the long haul and has an assured place in New Zealands literary history. Outside the pages of Maurice Gees fiction, there is no picture of contemporary New Zealand society as convincing as this one, and its creation of individual characters is unsurpassed.
Beyond its social and psychological insights, it is an aesthetic structure at a high level of achievement and its language never misses a beat. Wilkins uses no word too many or too few, so that his tale is a pleasure to read at each step of the journey.
...nobody interested in local literature should fail to read this book. Neither should anyone who simply enjoys a beautifully crafted work of fiction.
Nelson Wattie DOMINION POST
Wilkins is a premier writer. Of that there is no doubt. He has a beautiful way, using the gentlest of brush strokes, of conveying human frailties and challenging the reader to stay with him. Hedley Mortlock NZ HERALD
Damien Wilkins! Now there's a guy you want to read / listen to / get taught by, and he's got a new novel - his first in 4 years - called 'The Fainter'. Includes some choice Sunday music selections by the man himself. Tim Neale interview on bfm click for audio link