The book which comes to mind on having finished Inga Simpson’s Mr Wigg is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. They share nothing much in common; Mr Wigg is set in country Australia in 1970, is about a man at the end of his long life and the most contentious issue touched on is the sacking of Bill Lawry as captain of the Australian Cricket team. But even so, that warm feeling which comes from having read something which has strengthened or even reawakened our sense of what is right and good about the world overwhelmed me on closing the book. And also, I suspect, though it isn’t actually true of Mr Wigg, both stories are from the point of view of the child.
I know nothing of Inga Simpson, and I may easily have been tricked by her wonderful art, but I think this book is in some way an account of someone, and somewhere, she loved while a young person. Whatever its genesis, Mr Wigg is beautiful. A strange word to use, I know, but it is what it is. Five Stars – John Purcell.
by Inga Simpson
A novel that celebrates the small things in life by a fresh Australian voice.
It s the summer of 1971, not far from the stone-fruit capital of New South Wales, where Mr Wigg lives on what is left of his family farm. Mrs Wigg has been gone a few years now and he thinks about her every day. He misses his daughter, too, and wonders when he ll see her again.
He spends his time working in the orchard, cooking and preserving his produce and, when it s on, watching the cricket. It s a full life. Things are changing though, with Australia and England playing a one-day match, and his new neighbours planting grapes for wine. His son is on at him to move into town but Mr Wigg has his fruit trees and his chooks to look after. His grandchildren visit often: to cook, eat and hear his stories. And there s a special project he has to finish …
About the Author
Inga Simpson has a PhD in Creative Writing from QUT and a Masters in Australian Literature from the University of New South Wales. Before turning seriously to creative writing, Inga had a long career as a professional writer, including stints for federal Parliament and the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Inga is currently working on a nature writing project (NOTES FROM OLVAR WOOD) and researching Australian nature writing as part of an MPhil in Literature at the University of QLD. Inga Simpson took part in the Queensland Writer s Centre Manuscript Development Program in 2011.
First Published in Books+Publishing
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About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at booktopia.com.au.