The Great Fire

A Novel

Shirley Hazzard


Download Image Shirley Hazzard The Great Fire

Available Formats

More than twenty years after the classic The Transit of Venus, Shirley Hazzard returns to fiction with a novel that in the words of Ann Patchett "is brilliant and dazzling..."

The Great Fire is an extraordinary love story set in the immediate aftermath of the great conflagration of the Second World War. In war-torn Asia and stricken Europe, men and women, still young but veterans of harsh experience, must reinvent their lives and expectations, and learn, from their past, to dream again. Some will fulfill their destinies, others will falter. At the center of the story, a brave and brilliant soldier finds that survival and worldly achievement are not enough. His counterpart, a young girl living in occupied Japan and tending her dying brother, falls in love, and in the process discovers herself.

In the looming shadow of world enmities resumed, and of Asia’s coming centrality in world affairs, a man and a woman seek to recover self-reliance, balance, and tenderness, struggling to reclaim their humanity. The Great Fire is a story of love in the aftermath of war by "purely and simply, one of the greatest writers working in English today." (Michael Cunningham)
The Great Fire is the winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction.

Connect with the Author

Shirley Hazzard

Related Links

Sign Up for
Author Updates

Macmillan Newsletter

Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

Book Excerpts

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard. Copyright © 2003 by Shirley Hazzard. To be published in October, 2003 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

Now they were starting. Finality ran through the train, an exhalation. There were thuds, hoots, whistles, and the shrieks of late arrivals. From a megaphone, announcements were incomprehensible in American and Japanese. Before the train had moved at all, the platform faces receded into the expression of those who remain.

Leith sat by a window, his body submissively chugging as they got under way.

Read the full excerpt



Praise for The Great Fire

“Beauty is felt in almost every line of this austerely gorgeous work.” —Chicago Tribune
“So majestic in scope and so sophisticated in diction it evokes a rhapsodic gratitude in the reader...Calls to mind the writerly command of A.S. Byatt, Lawrence Durrell, Nadine Gordimer, and Graham Greene.”
—The San Diego Union-Tribune
"The last masterpiece of a vanished age of civility."--The Wall Street Journal

"[The Great Fire] sails into port like a magnificent ship of fiction from another era."--Entertainment Weekly

"The Great Fire is about both the destructive conflagrations of war and the restorative conflagrations of the heart. Hazzard’s moving, generous story paints love as the greatest rescuer of all—as apt today in our troubling, troubled world as it was 55 years ago."--San Francisco Chronicle

“Hazzard writes with an extraordinary command of geography and time.... Flashes of violence cut through the contemplative narrative, but in her exquisitely cut sentences, hazzard concentrates on the subtler movements of these hearts cauterized by violence."--The Christian Science Monitor

"A hypnotic novel that unfolds like a dream: Japan, Southeast Asia, the end of one war and the beginning of another, the colonial order gone, and at the center of it all, a love story."--Joan Didion, author of Where I Was From

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Shirley Hazzard

Shirley Hazzard is the author, most recently, of Greene on Capri, a memoir of Graham Greene, and several works of fiction, including The Evening of the Holiday, The Bay of Noon, and The Transit of Venus, winner of the 1981 National Book Critics Circle Award. She lives in
New York City and Capri.

Shirley Hazzard

Copyright Nancy Crampton
Shirley Hazzard


Reading Guide

Organizing a Reading Group


Get the Guide

Download PDF

Tell Your Friends


Find More Books

Go to Website

Stay Updated

Sign Up

Buy the Book

Available Formats and Book Details

The Great Fire
A Novel
Shirley Hazzard


International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - Nominee, Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize - Nominee, National Book Awards - Winner, Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction - Nominee

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
July 2004
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312423582
ISBN10: 0312423586
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 336 pages

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
April 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9780374706357
ISBN10: 0374706352
288 pages

From The Publisher


Latest on Facebook

Latest on Twitter