Blueback (novel)

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First edition (publ. Pan Macmillan)

Blueback is a short novel by the Australian author Tim Winton. First published in 1997, it has been translated into Italian, Dutch and Japanese.[1] It is subtitled a fable for all ages.


Blueback details the life of Abel Jackson, who lives with his mother Dora in a traditional house in Longboat Bay. Their life is hard and Abel enjoys exploring the ocean as they look for abalone. He meets an old grouper. He doesn't seem to care much at first, but then he names it Blueback.[2] Abel sees the greed of humans when they come to Longboat Bay and he wonders what can be done.[3] It is Abel's mother who is approached by developers who decides that Blueback and Longboat Bay must be saved.[4]

In 1999, Blueback was awarded the Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children's Literature in the Senior Fiction category, and in 1999 was awarded the Hoffman Award by the West Australian Young Readers Book Award association.[5]

Tim Winton on Blueback[edit]

"I don't know whether books like Blueback make a difference, but in an innocent way, it's discussing these things - we have been taking from the sea and the land for so long, it's time for us to give something back. "I feel very specifically that I benefited from growing up where I did, where so much revolved around the sea - in a way, it was a gift and I owe it something. If the sea is ultimately where we come from, and it seems we did, then it's our source, our ancestral life and we are obliged to nourish it."[6]


The New York Times Review stated that "Winton . . . convince[s] us of the preciousness of our oceans not through lectures but through his characters' steady wonder."[3]

A review by Alexa Dretke

... we have a boy who loves the sea. It is his playground and part of his family’s past. He loves a big, old fish that swims with him and he loves his mother, who taught him the ways of the ocean and how to respect it. They live sustainably from nature and eschew material things...This is Abel’s coming-of-age story and Winton’s homage to a landscape he hopes will prevail. This is a superb modern Australian classic for every child and adult.[7]

Goodread describes the book as, " A wise exploration of the difference between the acquisition of information and the quest for knowledge, Tim Winton's gem-like ecological fable will warm the hearts of his fans."[8]


In 2005, Blueback adapted into a puppet show by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, located in Fremantle staged its Premier performance. It then staged performances in Regional Schools in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The play then returned to Fremantle in 2011, and performed at the Mandurah Performing Arts Theatre in 2012, before returning to Fremantle again in 2015. There was also a Regional Schools Tour in 2015.[9]


  • 1998 Bolinda Audio Book Awards[5]
  • 1998 Wilderness Society Environment Award[5]
  • 1999 WAYRBA Hoffman Award for Young Readers[5]


  1. ^ "Blueback". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  2. ^ "A review of Blueback by Tim Winton 2 April 2004". Compulsive Reader. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Blueback by Tim Winton". Penguin. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  4. ^ "eBook and resources for Blueback – Tim Winton". Penguin Education. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "Tim Winton Author Bio". Booktopia. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Tim Winton: Into the Blue : Murray Waldron (first published in The Weekend Australian)". Library Liaisons. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Blueback by Tim Winton 26 April 2016". Readings. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Blueback". Goodreads. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  9. ^ "Blueback". Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. Retrieved 3 February 2017.