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Peter Kocan

© Vincent Long

Peter Kocan

Peter Kocan was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, in 1947 and grew up in Melbourne. He left school at fourteen to work on country New South Wales properties and in factory jobs. He served a decade in custody for a shooting offence and it was then that he began to write. He has published three previous novels and five collections of verse.

All Peter Kocan's books

Latest reviews

  • from Author Peter Kocan was sentenced to “life” in 1966. He spent many years in an Australian hospital for the criminally insane for the attempted assassination of Labor leader Arthur Calwell. This work is not called a memoir but, told in the...
    — Sep 9 2008
  • from Reminiscent of Ken Kesey’s cult classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Australian author Peter Kocan’s novel The Treatment and The Cure is destined to enter the annals of asylum and prison literature. Originally published...
    — Sep 9 2008
  • from “You’re not feeling so cheerful now, with this talk of shock treatment. You start to think how it was all too good to be true. Now you’re finding out about the bad thing, the thing you knew had to be here though you didn’t know exactly what...
    — Sep 9 2008
  • As a young man, Australian native Kocan (b. 1947) was sentenced to life imprisonment after a failed attempt to assassinate a member of Parliament and served 10 years in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. In these two linked novellas, Kocan fictionalizes his time there.
    — Apr 30 2008
  • Set in the 1960s, this harrowing coming-of-age tale features an unnamed 14-year-old Australian boy with a troubled past. As the book opens, he, his mother, and his younger brother are leaving his abusive father to make a life on their own. With his mother unable to care for both...
    — Jun 13 2007
  • Three people arrive at the train station of a large city: The woman, the youth and the boy. We don't know their names, nor that of the city. They are fleeing Vladimir, an abusive husband and father. The 14-year-old youth knows he doesn't have the will to fight him. What inner...
    — Mar 15 2007
  • Australian writer Kocan, who spent 10 years imprisoned for attempted murder, unflinchingly renders the isolation, grief and longing of a troubled outsider in this dire, semiautobiographical novel. Having fled a violent home with his mother and younger brother, an unnamed 14-year-old...
    — Mar 13 2007
  • from Quadrant Peter Kocan’s new novel, Fresh Fields, is a stark, harrowing, yet deeply courageous work of immense power and magnitude. It was fashionable some years ago for literary critics to search the horizon, Ahab-like, for the Great Australian Novel. If this...
    — Aug 3 2006
  • No novel I read this year, from anywhere, equalled Peter Kocan 's bleak Fresh Fields. A Sydney teenager, only ever called the Youth, is driven out of home and, by way of a few abortive jobs up country, drifts into living rough in the central city. He develops an intellectual...
    — Aug 3 2006
  • Pivotal chapter in Peter Kocan's life I'm probably raving on a bit," says Peter Kocan. He's not. It's just eloquent concern about the state of the world from a highly intelligent man who knows his literature, history and philosophy. It...
    — May 14 2006


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