by Dr Linda Nix, publisher and editor at Lacuna Publishing.
The Last Candles of the Night is a book with several themes and many layers. It deals with:
displacement and belonging,
nationhood and ‘stake’ – that is, to have a stake in something
revolution and activism.
It draws parallels and contrasts between two nations undergoing cultural and political change: Hyderabad in 1948 and Australia in 2001. It is also a love story.
But tonight we are here to discuss one theme in particular: that of memory, a theme that is also integral to the narrative. The main character Philip has returned to Australia after living in India for over 50 years, and he finds his memories of his first year in Hyderabad intruding on the present. Those parts of the story set in India are memories.
Shortly you’ll be hearing from our guest experts on various aspects of memory, so I won’t say much more about it other than this. As individuals we all have memories, we rely on memory, although at times we have faulty memories and lapses in memory.
Cultures also suffer memory loss and distortion. Literature is one way to address cultural amnesia, to keep the past alive and to provide ways of understanding the present. The Last Candles of the Night comments on both India and Australia as we know them today, through its narrative set in defining moments for nationalism in both countries.