A Picador Paperback Original
On a radiant day in Sydney, four adults converge on Circular Quay, site of the iconic Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Crowds of tourists mix with the locals, enjoying the glorious surroundings and the play of light on water.
But just as Circular Quay resonates with Australia's past, each of the four carries a complicated history from elsewhere. Each person is haunted by past secrets and guilt. Ellie is preoccupied by her sexual experiences as a girl, James by a tragedy for which he feels responsible, Catherine by the loss of her beloved brother in Dublin, and Pei Xing by her imprisonment during China's Cultural Revolution.
Told over the course of a single Saturday, Five Bells describes four lives that come to share not only a place and a time but also mysterious patterns and ambiguous symbols, including a barely glimpsed fifth figure, a young child. By nightfall, when Sydney is drenched in a summer rainstorm, each life will have been transformed by the events of this day.
Gail Jones is the author of the novels Black Mirror, Sixty Lights, Dreams of Speaking, and Sorry. She has been nominated for numerous international awards, including the Man Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Prix Femina Étranger. She is a professor of writing at the University of Western Sydney.
“Over the past decade Gail Jones has established herself as a significant presence in contemporary Australian fiction. Thoughtful, intelligent, and intensely lyrical…a novel of unmistakable contemporary relevance.” —The Guardian (London)
“An intense…poetic tale.” —Financial Times (London)
“Five Bells is a brilliant work, both explicitly Australian and insistently cosmopolitan…[and] establishes Gail Jones as one of Australia's finest authors.…In the midst of pandemonium, traffic, and tourist hordes gazing at icons, Jones gives us individuals who are achingly alive, filled with apprehensions of beauty, love, and mortality.” —The Australian
“Jones's writing has the intensity of a dream…combining tension with lyricism.” —The Times (London)
“A story peopled by real characters, memorably related in delicate, ornate prose.” —The Independent (London)
“A novel that reaches beyond the glittering surface of Sydney to capture the rippling patterns of a wider human history with singular beauty and power.” —The Canberra Times (Australia)