This article is from 2009.
Succeeding with slices of lick and portions of skill
Steve Toltz has been a private detective, a cameraman, an English teacher and telemarketeer, but now the author is doing what his Australian mates have been doing for years: turning up at the Edinburgh Festival.
Toltz, whose chunky first novel A Fraction of the Whole won worldwide acclaim and a Booker nomination last year, is delighted to be appearing. ‘I’ve always known friends who are performing in Edinburgh, so I’m pleased it’s my turn,’ he confesses. His picaresque romp pokes fun at very Australian obsessions from fair sportsmanship to building that ideal suburban home, following the adventures of the villainous Terry Dean and his philosophical explorer of a brother Martin and nephew, Jasper.
‘It took five years to write, and I wrote it while doing a lot of different jobs. You could say I kept faith, or it was a lack of other options, being a complete failure at everything else. I had no luck with agents. It just happened I got it to a publisher through a friend of a friend of my sister’s friend. The Booker nomination wasn’t something I had anticipated, and it is a thrill that it has found its place.’ The Sydney boy might now live in France, but that’s nothing to do with the response in Australia. ‘As I was writing it, I thought: “that’s a bit touchy”, but Australians have a sense of humour, and the reaction has been fantastic.’
28 Aug (with Gil Adamson), 10.15am, £9 (£7).