by Louis Armand
First published: 2015
Publisher: Vagabond Press
A decade-by-decade pastiche of 20th-century white Australia, Abacus is a novel about the end times, of generational violence and the self-consuming instinct for survival.
“There is writing here that is twisted towards poetic vibrations of disgust and horror that’s inevitably funny in a wry desolate register, making the reading a degenerate pilgrimage.” Richard Marshall, 3AM Magazine
“Abacus weaves an erudite but harsh beauty from the tattered seams of Australian history.” Cameron Woodhead, Sydney Morning Herald
“The cumulative effect of Abacus is intriguing… As a historical fiction, it’s a welcome corrective to worn-out narrative tropes such as the discovery of lost diaries and the recrudescence of family secrets.” Ed Wright, The Australian
“Thematically, the focus is on conflict and its effects on family, balanced nicely against the under-appreciation of art in Australian society. It is in its battle scenes where Abacus succeeds best. The two world wars and the Vietnam war are all covered. The second character – Sid Smith – has scenes in the trenches, which are as good as any of the multitudinous Australian portrayals of that era.” Chris Flynn, Australian Book Review
“If Armand is lucky this book will be recognized for the important literary work it is. Unfortunately, for most careful writers with something not cliché to say, such luck is a rare event. But I hope Armand has some, as the work certainly merits reading. It was good enough to convince me that Australia is not fiction. Not an easy sell.” Jim Chaffee, Sonder
Abacus was a Sydney Morning Herald pick of the week.
Cover art: Glendyn Ivin