The Misanthrope by Salome Nabainivalu978-1-922440-07-5, 978-1-922440-42-6 **Price includes shipping within Australia**
The Misanthrope is a novel that explores what it is to be an individual, the nature of relationships, race, otherness, class and the oppressiveness of small town life. The Misanthrope is an absurdist, coming of age novel set in the late 1990s when the coldest summer on record descends over the Australian coastal town of Menninda. The protagonist is Artemis Armstrong, a peculiar soon to be sixteen year old high school student of Australian and Fijian heritage with an obsession with all things Japanese. Living with her Aunt Alexandra, both are considered misfits, having to contend with the oppressiveness of small town life. Aunt Alexandra has raised Artemis to be highly individualistic, providing her with an extra-curricula list of readings to aid her intellectual development. Artemis becomes fascinated with the work of Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher born in 55AD, and attempts to follow his manual, The Encheiridion adapting it to her contemporary life. Aunt Alexandra lives in self-imposed exile, after self-immolating on account of a man. Artemis also has reclusive tendencies, having no friends to speak of. Rather she has the characters in books and films with whom to find an affinity. Her friendless state alters when a boy called Blaxland moves into the house next door.
Artemis looks back over the past year to when her mental health issues began, after a stint at work experience at Harpers Bazaar in the city. Walking up Oxford Street, she finds herself unable to share the footpath with anyone else. A bout of claustrophobia sets in and she steps out in front of a bus. The accident results in her being admitted to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Ward. Artemis survives as best she can navigating her way around the other patients and staff in Ward 3A. Rendered unable to read or concentrate she develops a strict routine of pacing around the courtyard for hours a day as an alternative to watching daytime television.
Blaxland, her only companion, is concerned about how she is going to function in the real world when leaving school, given her inability to engage in everyday discourse with people. She is unable even to manage to pick up the phone when it rings or open the front door. Artemis makes the decision not to work in fashion but rather to become a philosopher, just focusing on her own work and not worrying about the mundane every day things with which people concern themselves. The relationship developing between Artemis and Blaxland proves somewhat problematic for Artemis who is altogether unaccustomed with intimacy and friendship of any kind. Deciding to research abnormal psychology in order to make sense of her peculiarities, Artemis goes to the library to consult the DSM-IV, discovering that she has a Schizoid Personality Disorder. This explains her aversion to sex, her isolated tendencies, detachment and her grandiose fantasizing which continues throughout the book.
The Misanthrope is a journey through the reflections and observations of an eccentric and inquisitive teenager's mind as she attempts to manoeuvre her way through the world.
Trim size: 5 x 8 (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Page count: 278
Internal pages: B&W