Brother Fish

Written by Bryce Courtenay
Review by Ann Oughton

This is the story of three people thrown together through circumstances beyond their control and the friendships that develop through the years of adversity.

Jack McKenzie is from a small island in the Bass Strait and he meets Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan when, as a five-year-old she sees in him a promising scholar. However, Jack is destined to become a fisherman like his father before him until the Korean War intervenes. In a prisoner of war camp Jack meets Jimmy Oldcorn, an African American Private soldier who in his youth was a gang leader in New York, and a lifelong friendship is forged.

Inspired by real events and characters, this is an Australian saga that spans eighty years and covers four continents. All three main characters, from vastly different backgrounds, have but one thing in common, a tough start in life. Through these characters we see an in-depth portrayal of racism, bigotry, love and the power of true friendship. Courtenay’s historical research is impressive, and there are back of the book detailed acknowledgements, list of sources and maps. It is a memorable work.