NO-ONE was more surprised than Jasper Jones author Craig Silvey to find the biggest market for his book outside of Australia was Turkey.
“It demonstrates the chaotic nature of publishing,” the bemused Fremantle local tells the Herald.
His book tour of the country was peppered with questions about Gallipoli and Lone Pine, which could explain the Turks’ interest in a book set in country town Australia, well removed from all things Turkish, he adds.
The multi-award winning novel has been transformed into a play, set to be shown at the State Theatre.
Silvey has no fear his story will be lost in translation, having worked with Barking Gecko director John Sheedy previously.
“I find it fascinating the different ways of arranging a story,” he says, adding, “John is so honest and passionate. He is allergic to short cuts.”
Geraldton scriptwriter Kate Mulvany adapted the novel to stage: “We are lucky to have her, she really connected to the book on an intimate level,” Silvey says.
The book is a beautifully poignant tale that has been described as Australia’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
It’s set in the fictional town of Corrigan in 1965—not much hard-thinking required to guess its inspiration—where Charlie Bucktin (played by James Beck), by his own admission, is probably the only teenager who reads books in a sports-mad town.
His best friend Vietnamese-born Jeffrey Lu (Hoa Xuande) is also having a rough time adjusting to small town Australia, while Jasper Jones (Shaka Cook) is known by townfolk as an “untrustworthy half-caste”.
One sultry summer night Jasper takes Charlie to his secret glade in the bush. A terrible and confronting scene leads to a mystery with more twists and turns than the books Charlie reads.
Along the way Silvey explores notions of race, class and family breakdown, through the eyes of teens and revealing what Silvey says is an astonishing resilience and capacity for hope.
He was fascinated by the process of successfully reworking his lengthy novel into a play.
“You are seeing things familiar to you in a very different way.”
Silvey is working on a new book and is in negotiations with an Australian company to turn Jasper Jones into a movie.
Jasper Jones runs July 17 to August 9 at the State Theatre, Studio Underground. Tix $30–$45 at ticketek.com.au
by JENNY D’ANGER