Peter Goldsworthy

Portrait Peter Goldsworthy
© Nicholas Purcell

Peter Goldsworthy was born in Minlaton on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia in 1951. He grew up in various small towns on the continent, completed his school qualifications in Darwin and studied medicine in Adelaide. In 1974, he started working as a doctor in various rehab centres for alcoholics and drug addicts. At the same time, he began to follow his love of literature by writing himself, publishing his first poems in newspapers. Since then, he has been trying to achieve a balance between his work as a doctor and that as an author.

1982 saw him debut simultaneously with his collection of short stories »Archipelagoes« and his volume of poems »Readings from Ecclesiastes«. Like other volumes of poetry by the author, the latter, with its ironic verses, was well-received by the critics. His breakthrough among a larger public came with the publishing of his first novel »Maestro« (1989). In a clear, deceptively simple style that harks back to Hemingway, Goldsworthy writes about the relationship between the teenager Paul and his piano teacher Eduard Keller, who carries a dark secret around with him. Written through the eyes of Paul, experiences at school, family anecdotes and thoughts about music are mixed together sensitively with reports about the piano lessons. The result is a »clever, melancholic study of life« (»Focus«) that tells the story of an unconventional friendship. Strong emotions and the trials and tribulations of human relationships are also at the centre of other novels by Goldsworthy. As such, the subtle volume »Wish« (1995) looks at the relationship between a teacher of sign language and a female gorilla and deals cautiously with moral questions like the ability to love and even bestiality. His prize-winning novel »Three Dog Night« (2003), set in the expanse of the Australian desert, deals with love and jealousy between three people, one of whom is terminally ill. In his most recently published novel »Everything I Knew« (2008) Goldsworthy places himself, as he already did in »Maestro«, with great sensitivity in the shoes of a teenager living in the 1960s whose romantic interest in his teacher in the small town milieu of South Australia ends in a tragic catastrophe. When it comes to motive and morals Goldsworthy, like Tolstoy, skillfully questions the relationship between victim and perpetrator. In addition to short stories, poems and novels, the author has also written two libretti for operatic works, and two stage adaptations of his own novels.

The author has received many awards for his written works, among these, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the FAW Christina Stead Award for fiction, and the Robert Helpmann Award for the best opera. Peter Goldsworthy lives as an author and doctor in Adelaide.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin