Remembering Babylon Hardcover – 1993
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One day while wondering with them, he spied some white men, whom he later sought out. A family in the new community took him in and tried to help him re-integrate into English style daily life. He had lost much of his earlier language skills and found it difficult to communicate.
What was happening with Gemmy was similar to what was happening with the English colonists. Both were out of their element and trying to fit their old lives into their current location. Gemmy had never had a 'good' nor 'safe' life and he didn't have the skills of how to live in a proper family. The colonists were trying to recreate an English pastoral life in a totally foreign environment that was often hostile to their attempts.
I most enjoyed reading of Gemmy's life and his attempts to fit in anywhere. He didn't find a safe place in England, not on the ship and even with the aborigines he was always an outsider. He wasn't either a white fellow or a black fellow, he was something else. I think perhaps that he was a lot of what was needed to for the transplanted English to survive in Australia, but that the whites refused to even consider the possibility.
From a truly ignominious beginning, Gemmy schools himself to adapt to circumstances, intuiting acceptable behavior as necessary for survival. Throughout his wanderings with the Aborigines, he assumes the coloring of his surroundings, much as they do. But another voice, a distant curiosity calls Gemmy ever closer to the poverty-riddled settlers who view him as a threat. There is a life-defining moment for two young people, Lachlan and Janet, when they first see Gemmy, perched precariously atop a fence, held for a moment in time that marks their consciousness indelibly. Drawing Gemmy into their world, Lachlan is his mentor, Janet his friend, both protective of his innocence, forever fascinated with that first seminal glimpse.
In such an intimate and hardscrabble community, where human connections insure survival, Gemmy is a freak, too strange to be perceived as non-threatening, white, but with the outward visage of a black. Fearful and superstitious, they draw away, repulsed. Eventually, Gemmy finds himself moving back into the bush, unable to manage the demands of such a borderline civilization. Years later, as adults, Lachlan and Janet deeply reconnect over their youthful remembrance, that slender thread that attached them to Gemmy for that short time in their young lives.
The writing is powerful and beautifully rendered, with a sense of awareness that pulses with life. Immersed in nature's stark reality, words become feelings, thoughts merge with the heartbeat of humanity at its most vulnerable.
Most recent customer reviews
Remembering Babylon is the story of Gemmy - washed up on the Australian coast as a boy after a life of harshness that is hard to imagine, he is taken in by group of Aborigines. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2001 by Megami
Mr. David Malouf has the ability to take familiar topics, amend them, and create a new viewpoint, a valid book, and worthwhile reading experience. Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2001 by taking a rest
Remembering Babylon, I found wasn't aas good as I thought it was going to be. I found at times it was hard to read. I used it as a book to put me to sleep!!!! Read morePublished on May 30 1998
Malouf doesn't need much introduction, in all truth, the fairest comment one can make is "read him." With that said and in the spirit of contradiction, here is why I believe... Read morePublished on May 26 1998 by Juan Mobili
I found the issues addressed in this novel compelling. Firstly, the title, 'Remembering Babylon' refers to Psalm 137 where Hebrew slaves in Babylon lament the loss of Zion, their... Read morePublished on Nov. 9 1997