Listed in New York Times Book Review’s “Most
Notable Books of l992”
and in Publishers Weekly’s Best 16 Novels of l992.
Featured New Voice Selection
— Quality Paperback Book Club
The Last Magician is unashamedly dense
with ideas... It is her finest novel to date, surpassing even the
excellent Borderline, and should establish her as one of
the most powerful and innovative writers in English today.
— Times Literary Supplement
A novel of considerable intellectual and emotional
— Sunday Times
The Last Magician distinguishes itself
by encasing an intriguing plot in luminous crackles of language
and perception.... As with the other finest Australian writers,
there’s a sense of different energies, an escaping of tired
formats.... Widely tipped for the Booker Prize.
— The Scotsman
A dose of serious magic... a beautifully written and intelligent
— Sunday Telegraph
A smouldering disquisition on social inertia
Dazzling and elliptical
Few novelists have written with such authority
about childhood passions and the influence they carry over into
what passes for adulthood
— London Review of Books
With refreshing disregard for literary decorum,
Janette Turner Hospital grasps Dante’s central image of the
Inferno and makes it her own... a [vision] wide enough to tackle
themes that range from the intimate to the universal.
— Literary Review
Heady, engrossing and rather wonderful... High-voltage
prose.... The real magician of course is the author.
Janette Turner Hospital connects the matter-of-fact
everyday world with the realm of the mythic. It is as if The
Divine Comedy started by listing the bus transfers Dante had
to make to reach the middle of his life's road and the dark wood
where he begins his visit to Hell....
The author writes with powerful beauty.... A story of high tension
and terrifying allure... Her writing has perfect pitch.
— Los Angeles Times (lead fiction
review by Richer Eder, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic)
Soon, very soon, readers of first-rate fiction
will be embarrassed not to know the name of Janette Turner Hospital...
We marvel at how Hospital makes her novel work
on so many different levels – as psychological thriller and
detective story, as sociopolitical commentary, as both a jaggedly
postmodern novel and a compulsively readable one... Hospital’s
prose showers over us like a torrent, leaving us amazed, breathless,
and perhaps a bit terrified.
— Dan Cryer, New York Newsday
A highwire act... [that holds] us with attention
riveted, breath held.
— Washington Post Book World
She fills her novel with evocative settings, characters
we care deeply about, and language that is entrancingly lyrical...
An ambitious, intense and satisfying book.
— New York Times Book Review, Editor’s
Insightful and original, The Last Magician
poses the burning questions – about sexuality and repression,
about 'innocence' and its relation to violence, about the masks
power wears when it demonizes the Other – on a wide, richly
– Boston Globe
The most sensuous artistic novel of the year
— New England Review of Books
From tantalizing start to dizzying conclusion,
the novel’s pleasures – like its metaphors – operate
on a grand scale.
— Chicago Tribune
In this mesmerizing study of the effects of a
dark secret on the people who must live with it, the author of Charades
proves herself a magician with words and narrative structure. Moreover,
she seems to have an artificer’s skill for re-creating her
fictional approach each time out: each of her novels is different
from the others in theme, tone, and method. The constants are her
impeccable, sensuous prose and her fiercely intelligent imagination.
— Publishers Weekly, lead featured
Combining elements of a suspense thriller with many of the techniques
of experimental fiction, Hospital takes us on a disorienting trip...
Throughout this hypnotic magic show of a novel, Hospital plays with
her readers unmercifully; she gives us what we traditionally crave--characters
to love and a story to follow--but then she withholds the tonic
chord.... And yet, in one final turn of the magic lantern, we realize
that by denying us meaning, by failing to find the pattern, Hospital
has taught us more about where life and literature come together
and break apart than we’ve managed to learn from even the
most meaningful of books.
— Booklist, lead review, by Bill
Similar to, but more focused than the mythopoetic
sagas of Thomas Pynchon, The Last Magician is a tour de
force that finally rewards the reader's persistence with extraordinary
insight and vision.
— Philadelphia Inquirer
With her highly charged imagination and an impatience with pretense,
Hospital probes the duplicity of memory in much the same way as
Charlie’s enigmatic photographs: by blurring the boundary
between past and present, mixing documentation with deception and
desire..... This is a fierce and brilliantly constructed tale, and
the telling is magic.
— Boston Review
A powerful intellect at work... an end-of-the-millenium rewrite
of Dante’s Inferno... an inquiry into the power of memory
and the modern idea of the infernal, pursued in a tone of violent
— Women's Review of Books
Hospital is a modern magician with a very sure
— San Francisco Chronicle
Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin , Australia’s main literary
Janette Turner Hospital is the magician here, conjuring up Brisbane
in the last year of the trams and Sydney’s more recent past
in scenes that puzzle, horrify and finally illuminate. A knockout.
The passion which informs Hospital’s writing is political
in the best sense, defying labels or categorisation, but constantly
in search of the authentic in a world of moral ugliness.... When
combined with her dazzling writing skills, her intricate plotting,
her evocation of the very taste and smell of Australian experience,
as it is in The Last Magician, the result is a book hard to put
down which teases and lingers in the mind long after it has been
The most exciting Australian novel in over a decade
Fiona Capp in the Sydney Morning Herald:
In The Last Magician... arrival at a destination or solution is
not the point. It’s the marvellous and disturbing journey
Janette Turner Hospital has a rare sense of her own work, pacing
herself so every achievement is full, mature, and glowing. She is
as magical with her words as the knowing magician of her title.
Applaud the conjurer.
Katherine England in the Adelaide Advertiser:
Like most of Hospital’s work, The Last Magician repays rereading:
structure imitates substance here.... A second reading picks up
resonances with a wealth of literature....
Few Australian writers throw out such a challenge as Janette Turner
Hospital; few repay acceptance of the challenge with such tangible
and topical rewards.
Language is Turner Hospital’s greatest strength... her prose
shimmers, and her delight in word play is infectious.... An engrossing
and powerful novel.
THE LAST MAGICIAN / Reviews/ CANADA
Number #1 on the Toronto Star Bestseller list.
Shortlisted for the Trillium Award
Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize
Carol Corbeil in the lead review in Toronto Globe
A brilliantly layered, complex and profound work... an allegory
of the soul’s journey toward light
Wonderful, compelling writing
Books in Canada:
The Last Magician is a moving tale that resonates with insight and
larger purpose.... Postmodern it is, and richly philosophical; a
deeply felt work in which the characters unearth for us the only
truths that count.
George Woodcock, Canada’s most distinguished
literary critic, writes in
Quill & Quire:
My criteria of maturity are three: when the literature develops
a strong line of critical practice interweaving with the creative
functions; when it ceases to be obsessed with the new nationalism
and abandons the obsession with theme...; and finally, when it cuts
away from national self-consciousness and begins to look outside
once again for forms and inspirations in time and space... as do
both Janette Turner Hospital (in The Last Magician) and Michael
Ondaatje (in The English Patient).
Its essence is an emotionally charged meditation on loss and absence,
on time and memory, on the head’s ability to deny what the
In the sensuousness of the prose--and the unforgettable image of
the quarry-- Hospital’s new book provides ample evidence that
she has some impressive tricks up her sleeve.
The Last Magician is brilliant: a postmodern tour-de-force