cover mr c and the as

Mr Callaghan & The Asylum Seeker

This is a novel within a novel based on two very different premises. The main novel tilts satirically at two iconic aspects of American culture: Hollywood’s self-indulgent Academy Awards and the ubiquitous television talk shows with their charismatic hosts. Both are expressed through the actions of Tommy Callaghan, an eighty-year-old Australian, who has just won two Oscars for his screenplay and direction of the film Miwako and who is fêted on the Fran Winfield Show - television’s most popular talk show.

Here we learn of his past exploits and his completely uninhibited personality. The audience loves him and Fran announces to the world that she has pulled off an exclusive. Tommy will read extracts from his book, from which he’d adapted his Oscar-winning screenplay, on the show daily from his home in New South Wales via satellite.

In this way, we hear the story of  the asylum seeker Miwako, an infant survivor of Hiroshima.  Orphaned, she is rescued and nurtured in a monastery, before an aunt and uncle are discovered living in Tokyo where, subsequently, she is raised, but isolated in herself and her horror memories.

It’s a story of tragedy and human relationships which fully develops in the 1970s, when Miwako is a mature but disturbed woman trying to hide from her past. Travelling to New Zealand, she makes her way to the offshore Stewart Island, where she discovers a cave in one of the most remote bays. Her sanctuary. Here she finds temporary peace and develops a beautiful relationship with a young half-Maori boy, Tane, who lives on the island with his widowed Australian father, Adam.  Originally from Sydney, Adam farms a small holding and makes a living as a fisherman, catching lobster from the island’s surrounding rich waters. Unfortunately, Miwako’s idyllic life is cut short when she is hunted down, arrested and deported because she is an illegal over-stayer, an asylum seeker and the story ends…

The tale is related within the main narrative and as a counterpoint to the behaviour and often strained, sometimes hilarious, relationships of the eccentric Callaghan family who live in a quirky town in Australia.

This umbrella novel is mainly played out in the rambling family home where Tommy lives with his colourful artist wife Delia, who becomes internationally famous for her erotic murals that are in great demand in the Houses of Pleasure and bathhouses of the world.

© Hugh Hanafi Hayes 2013