Robert Power’s debut novel In Search of the Blue Tiger was shortlisted for the unpublished manuscript category of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards in 2008. Early promise has germinated into a significant work which perhaps falls between Life of Pi, Under Milk Wood and Gus Kuijer’s disturbing children’s novel, The Book of Everything. Oscar Flowers’ childhood is distorted by his parents’ violent fights. He believes they are animals in human form, were-animals, and finds consolation in his literal and metaphorical search for the blue tiger, which will enable him to become fearless and powerful. His quest leads him to the library where a special friendship develops with the sympathetic Mrs April. He also becomes the focus of insular twins, Perch and Carp Fishcutter, who embroil him in their Jehovah’s Witness cult of Armageddon and sacrifice. Other surreal experiences seem to be inspired by theosophy or mysticism. The narrative belies recent criticisms of literary fiction as being plotless. Oscar is swept into a compelling journey, relayed in part by his scrapbook of tiger legends and facts. The writing is subtle, connotative and composed. Its craftsmanship embraces and extends this audacious depiction of an escape from childhood.
Joy Lawn is a literature consultant at Coaldrake’s Bookshop in Brisbane. This review first appeared in the Summer issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine.