Luca Antara

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Combining memoir, travelogue, history, and detective story, Luca Antara is a rich tapestry of history and the present. It parallels the life of the author, an émigré to Sydney; and the life of a historical figure, António da Nova, the servant of a Portuguese explorer who in the 1600s sent da Nova to find out more about Luca Antara—now Australia. New to Sydney, Martin Edmond finds himself impoverished and displaced. He earns money as a taxi driver but spends his spare time frequenting secondhand bookshops trying to learn more about the history of Australia and the wider region. The people Edmond encounters in his taxi and in his search for rare books are varied and strange, offering the reader a voyeuristic glimpse into Sydney's subculture. Edmond's reading centers upon da Nova, but each book he reads leads to another and the subject becomes broader and increasingly fascinating. Sent to discover more about Luca Antara, António da Nova's crew mutiny and dump him on the West Australian coast. He is found by Aborigines, who take him on an epic walk across northern Australia. Eventually he manages to return to his master in Portugal who awaits news of his explorations. The lives of the two men and the strange customs and unique social mores of each man's culture and time intertwine throughout the book, ending with Edmond literally walking in the footsteps of da Nova across northern Australia.


Martin Edmond has written the feature films Illustrious Energy and Terra Nova and his books include The Autobiography of My Father, The Resurrection of Philip Clairmont, Waimarino County: & Other Excursions, and Chronicle of the Unsung, which won the Biography Award at the 2005 Montana Book Awards.


"Where Edmond the protagonist is most vivid is in his evocations of his adopted Australia."  —New York Times

"A book-lover's book, a graceful and mesmerizing blend of history, autobiography, travel, and romance."  —J. M. Coetzee, winner, Nobel Prize in Literature, 2003

"Combining elements of a detective story with the laconic unwinding of a campfire yarn, Luca Antara is a thoroughly original, real, and fantastical account of a continent that is, in the hands of Martin Edmond vividly discovered and discovered again . . . a book written under the spell of . . . several fascinating compulsions—to search, enquire, dream, and to travel."  —Roger McDonald, author, The Ballad of Desmond Kale
"Graceful, uninhibited, eccentric, and filled with humorous pathos Luca Antara is a rare book. Bursting with quirky anecdotes Luca Antara is a browser's paradise as Edmond contemplates Australia with wry precision and luminous prose."  —Independent Weekly

"Martin Edmond's interweaving of personal memoir and historical documents of highly ambiguous provenance has to be considered creative non-fiction of the highest calibre."  —New Zealand Book Awards 2007 Judges' Report

"Fascinating and fluidly written."  —Historical Novels Review