- THE DOROTHY HEWETT AWARD
‘Just because you can’t see the chains doesn’t mean they don’t exist.’
In the Sanctuary, two robed men cut the hair of clients who have been called to pass through the White or Black Door. Along with their hair, the clients shed stories: of the horrors of their past, the Place they’ve inhabited since their escape, and what lies beyond the Doors. These stories are inscribed as Legends, but do they record a vision of Paradise or Hell?
This allegory, echoing Kafka, illuminates the stark terror of the modern age, marked by a border that's in constant shift between gods and men, truth and deception, freedom and constraint, memory and forgetting; revealing a world whose essence is its hiddenness - a world that hides, not in darkness, but in the light.
‘What I will tell you now is only guesswork. Because when a person is called they just disappear and are never seen again. We assume that their case is finally being heard, that they have moved on from here to the next stage. You seem to think of it as something dreadful, but it’s why we came here after all. We came here of our own free will, you must remember that, and we are free to leave at any time.’
Praise for Asylum:
A bleak work, fantasy mixed with horror, a world where you don’t know if utopia or dystopia is the setting. However the allegory, the metaphor is all too real. A book that will surely feature on award shortlists in the not too distant future and a wonderful example of where Australian political literature can travel. How else to describe this bleak search for meaning in a world devoid of such than through John Hughes’ words himself? What I really want you to see is the mystery by which a story reaches beyond itself to something else.MESSENGERS BOOKER