I read online somewhere that Winton is considered one of the foremost fiction writers in Australia. I made up my mind to read something of his immediately, because I have to admit I had never heard of him before.
Dirt Music tells the story of Georgie Jutland, a woman who realizes that her three-year relationship is coming to an end, and Luther Fox, a man who is adrift after losing his entire family in a horrific car accident some years earlier. As two outcasts in a tight-knit Australian fishing village that doesn't take kindly to outsiders, the two meet and begin a tentative relationship.
Winton explores the thoughts and actions of these two characters and the people who surround them with skill and empathy (and with a complete lack of quotation marks -- he doesn't even use long dashes to show dialogue the way Roddy Doyle does! It's confusing, but eventually I got used to it). I found I was enjoying this book on two levels - it's a sympathetically-written novel about two people trying desperately to find their place in the world and to find a direction in life but it's also a vivid portrait of the vast, diverse beauty of western Australia. Winton made the landscape come alive as much as the characters.
I will definitely give more of Tim Winton's books a read.