Why I wrote A Country in the Moon
As a young man growing up in Australia, I was forever torn between the intellectual climate of Europe and the irresistible physical attractions of the Antipodes. As kookaburras alighted in our eucalypts, I opened a rare edition of Noa Noa by Paul Gauguin complete with his original erotic woodcut illustrations. This account of two years spent exploring the geographical, mythical and sensual delights of Tahiti (1894-96) opened a window on the exotic I have found impossible to close. I was soon living on Norfolk Island at the western edge of Oceania among the part Polynesian descendants of the Mutiny on the Bounty and exploring my own delights. The result was my historical novel Point Venus. I have been discovering the hazardous romance of tropical islands ever since.
Much later I read works by the celebrated Polish ethnologist Bronisław Malinowski in snow-bound Zakopane in the High Tatra Mountains. Inspired by his anthropological The Sexual Life of Savages I travelled to the Trobriand ‘islands of love’ and wrote about Papua New Guinea in Beyond the Coral Sea. I have now come full circle in writing about Poland in A Country in the Moon, reconciling at last the European-Pacific dilemma which beset me long ago in that luxuriant Sydney garden.