Our latest book is also one of our earliest: it’s Garry Disher’s classic The Stencil Man, first published in 1988 and one of Garry’s first novels.
The titular stencil man is Martin Linke, a proud and uncompromising figure who has lived in Australia for seventeen years but in 1942 is separated from his children and sent to the internment camps at Holsworthy and then Tatura—essentially for refusing to disavow his German heritage. He finds himself at once in a concentration camp, a prisoner-of-war camp and a prison, battling the bureaucracy that he starts to suspect is deceiving him with its promises, navigating the national and political factions of the other internees, and struggling to hold together the family he has left outside. Soon the only solution seems to be escape…
It’s impossible to read The Stencil Man now without thinking of the more recent detention of new arrivals in Australia. These are different times, but many aspects of Garry’s book seem familiar and prescient: the sense of injustice, the arbitrary exercise of power, the disregard for family ties, even the euphemistic mangling of language—then we had internees, just as we now have detainees and transferees.
But even without these new historical resonances, The Stencil Man stands as a terse, gripping story of endurance and hope. It’s available for $4.99 from the Ligature bookshop, where you’ll also find direct links to the other e-book outlets.