Author(s): Steven Carroll
On a hot summer's night in the 1950s, the old and the new, diesel and steam, town and country all collide - and nobody will be left unaffected. As a passenger train leaves Spencer Street Station on its haul to Sydney, a family of three - Vic, Rita and their son Michael - are off to a party. George Bedser has invited the whole neighbourhood to celebrate the engagement of his daughter. Vic is an engine driver, with dreams of being like his hero Paddy Ryan and becoming the master of the smooth ride. As the neighbours walk to the party, we are drawn into the lives of a bully, a drunk, a restless girl and a young boy forced to grow up before he is ready. The Art of the Engine Driver is a luminous and evocative tale of ordinary suburban lives, told with an extraordinary power.
Steven Carroll was born in Melbourne and grew up in Glenroy. He went to La Trobe University and taught English in high schools before playing in bands in the 1970s. After leaving the music scene he began writing as a playwright and became the theatre critic for The Sunday Age. His novels The Art of the Engine Driver and The Gift of Speed were both shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. In 2008, The Time We Have Taken won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, South-East Asia and South Pacific region as well as the 2008 Miles Franklin Award, Australia's most prestigious literary prize. He has recently given up his lecturing post at RMIT to write full time and lives in Brunswick, Victoria.