The Living Sea of Waking Dreams

Author(s): Richard Flanagan

Aust Fiction | 2021 Bestsellers

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams is an ember storm of a novel. This is Booker Prize-winning novelist Richard Flanagan at his most moving-and astonishing-best.In a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, Anna's aged mother is dying-if her three children would just allow it. Condemned by their pity to living she increasingly escapes through her hospital window into visions of horror and delight.When Anna's finger vanishes and a few months later her knee disappears, Anna too feels the pull of the window. She begins to see that all around her others are similarly vanishing, but no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the reader ever deeper into a strangely beautiful story about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots.


This beautiful, brutal ember-storm of a novel is Flanagan back to his best. It follows a seemingly close-knit Tasmanian family as they unsuccessfully  try to come to terms with the increasingly poor health of their aged mother. Set against the backdrop of a world ablaze,  Living Sea..  is suffused with both sorrow and fierce anger at the irreversible decline of the world around us. Flanagan is too adroit for this to be a one-dimensional climate change book though. This is a clarion call for meaningful connections, between humans and with the natural world, to prevent the endless vanishings we choose to ignore each day. Gavin


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Shortlisted for the VIC Premier’s Award for Fiction 2021 Shortlisted for the Indie Book Award for Fiction 2021


Set in the near future, this novel has many layers embedded within the central story of a dying mother. Her children become determined to prolong her life and we are confronted with the ethical dilemmas that unfold during the final phase of Francie's life. Flanagan poses the possibility that we've forgotten how to live and perhaps this is why dying does not sit comfortably with us. Within the background, ecological systems are collapsing, bushfires have become constant and unrelenting. All that is beautiful is essentially disappearing before our eyes. There's a lovely metaphor here with vanishing body parts that lends a magical realism to the story. I loved this book, very timely and intriguing.

- Ramona

General Fields

  • : 9781760899943
  • : Penguin Random House
  • : Knopf
  • : 0.492
  • : October 2019
  • : 3.9 Centimeters X 14.5 Centimeters X 21.8 Centimeters
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 240
  • : near fine
  • : 823.92
  • : en
  • : 2010
  • : Hardback
  • : Richard Flanagan