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David Ireland: The Chosen

David Ireland cannot really be said to write novels. He writes a series of scenes or portraits, linked together by some common thread. Thread is the appropriate word here as the connection in this book is Davis Blood, whom we have already seen in Bloodfather. Davis is weaving the portraits of a selection of the inhabitants of Lost Rover. All this is just an excuse to write a few portraits of a variety of people – not the rich and famous, but the ordinary, the working stiff, the unemployed, the down-and-out. We have seen similar portraits in his earlier works and there is nothing here that is particularly new. Ireland has a way of bringing out the sad tales of the ordinary people, whether it is of the gentle bank robber or the failed Elvis fan. It reminds me very much of Joseph Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel. Mitchell’s work was set 50 years before, in New York not Sydney and was non-fiction but the similarities – the sympathetic and colorful portraits of the ordinary – are great. I think I preferred the Mitchell book.

Publishing history

First published 1997 by Random House