The Wreck of the Batavia: A True Story

Leys, Simon

Published by Thunder's Mouth Press
ISBN 10: 1560258217 / ISBN 13: 9781560258216
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Synopsis: In 1629, the ship Batavia, pride of the Dutch East India Company, was wrecked on the edge of a coral archipelago, some fifty miles from the western coast of the Australian continent. Most of the nearly three hundred men, women and children on board escaped from drowning only to become victims of a psychopath who, with the help of a dozen followers, organized a methodical massacre of this hapless community.

Acclaimed sinologist and author Simon Leys traveled to the site of the disaster and learned that, paradoxically, the natural environment of these islands could have afforded the survivors fairly decent living conditions; the massacre therefore appears all the more aberrant. In fact, in its gratuitous absurdity, it seems to present a microcosm of the totalitarian atrocities that are perpetrated by various ideologies seeking to establish Paradise on earth.

Leys’ elegiac essay, Prosper, is also included in this volume. In this deeply personal piece, Leys recalls a summer when he joined the crew of a tuna-fishing boat from Brittany, one of the last boats still working under sail. This remarkable narrative preserves Leys’ memories of his sailing companions and pays tribute to their unique world—a world that no longer exists.

About the Author: Simon Leys is the pen-name of Pierre Ryckmans, who was born in Belgium and settled in Australia in 1970. Leys is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and Member of the Academie Royale de Literature Francaise (Belgium). His most recent award was the Prix Femina, and he has also been awarded the Prix Renaudot and the Prix Henri Gal (Academie Francaise).  His works include Chinese Shadows (Viking,1977), a new translation of the Analects of Confucius (Norton, 1997) and The Death of Napoleon (Picador, 1991) won the prestigious Christina Stead Prize for fiction, and was recently made into a feature film starring Ian Holm.

THE WRECK OF THE BATAVIA will be simultaneously published in the U.K. by Grove Atlantic and in Australia by Black Inc.

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Title: The Wreck of the Batavia: A True Story
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good

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