By Anna KrienNon-fictionBlack Inc

Into the Woods

Anna Krien’s first book is as distinctive for its style as for its subject. An attempt to make sense of the fierce battle for Tasmania’s old growth forests – the politics, the people and the consequences at stake for both individuals and the environment – it is a brilliant work of reportage, combining the skills of a novelist with those of a canny interviewer and reporter.

Pitching herself into the thick of the issue, travelling to the small towns and wilderness areas of Tasmania where loggers and police face off with protesters, Anna Krien astutely records what she sees and hears there. She delicately weighs the varying motivations and perspectives of those she speaks to – ferals and premiers, sawmillers and whistle-blowers – resulting in a rich and varied account.

Into the Woods is an intimate, impressively balanced work of narrative journalism that takes readers to the heart of a loaded national debate.

Portrait of Anna Krien

Anna Krien

Anna Krien’s journalism, fiction and poetry have been published widely. Her publication credits include The Big Issue, The Monthly, The Age, Best Australian Essays, Griffith Review, Best Australian Stories, Frankie, Harvest, The Lifted Brow and ABC Unleashed. Into the Woods, her first book, has been shortlisted for the non-fiction category of the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, the WA Premier’s Literary Award and for the 2011 ABIA Newcomer of the Year Award.

Judges’ report

Into the Woods is a deft and multi-layered exploration of the Tasmanian forestry debate. Extensively researched, it is also Anna Krien’s own story, and the richer for it. Sleeping at blockades, posing hard questions to retired politicians and drinking with loggers takes courage, and there is a freshness in Krien’s prose that brings an open mind and an open heart to one of the vexed questions in Australian environmental policy. Her talent and sensibility make this an intimate psychological study of people, their motivations and their relationship with nature – and a riveting read.

Extract

If a tree falls in a forest and there is no-one there to hear it, does it make a sound? The question is brought to mind reading Into the Woods, a timely, relevant and comprehensive profile of a deeply corrosive subject with ramifications for the country as a whole.

Anna Krien takes us on a personal adventure of investigation into the bitter struggle for Tasmania’s crowning glory. The catalyst is confronting Youtube video of a Tiananmen Square-like event on our own doorstep.

The nebulously rich narrative flows through a tapestry of reminiscences of childhood, past lives, relationships, historic events and personal experiences, with a brash honesty and coarse, colourful language. It reflects the polarising, frustrating, emotionally murky political and economic issues undermining the value of the decency, common sense and humanity of ordinary Tasmanians.

Seduced by conservationists and challenged by loggers, the author reflects, in chameleon style, on a complex yet basic, universal question of the survival and sustainability of the planet, as it is played out in the microcosm of contradiction that is Tasmania’s forests.

A patchwork of facts, reports, scientific analyses, myriad human stories, interviews, personal encounters and self-discoveries are summarised in the authors own words: “how can so many people be looking at the same thing and seeing it so differently?”

The Premier’s 21 Shortlist