Damien Wilkins

The Fainter

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Runner-up for Fiction in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2007

Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2007

Luke is a young diplomat on his first overseas posting. He’'s in New York, preparing for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. His photo has appeared in the New York Times. He has a knack for success. Then he witnesses a crime, the fallout from which threatens everything.

His fainting spells return and he finds himself back in New Zealand, living on his sister's farm, caught up in another difficulty altogether, and involved in the life of a community whose personalities and rules of conduct he finds as bewitching and dizzying as anything experienced at the frontline of international diplomacy. By the end of his time there –– which takes the reader only halfway through this novel –– Luke has been asked the most testing questions about himself.

In the second part of the book, these questions return with a new and surprising urgency. The Fainter is a superb novel, beautifully written, bracingly funny, rich with cutting insight and cool compassion.

'Outside the pages of Maurice Gee'’s fiction, there is no picture of contemporary New Zealand society as convincing as this one, and its creation of individual characters is unsurpassed. . . . A beautifully crafted work of fiction.' —Nelson Wattie, Dominion Post

'Wilkins has a beautiful way, using the gentlest of brush strokes, of conveying human frailties and challenging the reader to stay with him.' —Hedley Mortlock, NZ Herald