Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Extinctions” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,636 ratings  ·  242 reviews
He hated the word 'retirement', but not as much as he hated the word 'village', as if aging made you a peasant or a fool. Herein lives the village idiot.

Professor Frederick Lothian, a retired engineer, world expert on concrete and connoisseur of modernist design, has quarantined himself from life by moving to a retirement village. His wife, Martha, is dead and his two adul
Paperback, 300 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by University of Western Australia Press (first published 2016)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Extinctions, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Extinctions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,636 ratings  ·  242 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Extinctions
Diane S ☔
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Fred is in the latter part of his sixties, living in a senior village, and not very happy about that fact. His wife has died, and though we know he has two children, their is a rift between them, though the details are not yet apparent. Those are revealed as we read further. His thoughts are at times amusing, but he seems stuck on himself, or within himself. Quite pompous, and wants to keep away from most of the other residents, not get involved in this life he now finds himself within.

Paul Lockman
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read a good review of this book in a local newspaper and luckily our local library had it. I have just finished it and I really enjoyed it, 4.5* is my rating. Fred Lothian is a retired university professor in engineering whose wife Martha passed away some two years ago, He’s 69yo and living in a retirement village in Perth, Western Australia and by chance he gets to know his next door neighbour in the retirement village, Jan, and a somewhat strained friendship begins.

Fred’s best friend Ralph h
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
There are several book prizes where I read at least the short list and, in some cases, the full long list. There are other book prizes that I follow and where my own reading overlaps with the selected books. And there are others that I look at with interest but make no effort to read the books. So, when I came across Extinctions on NetGalley which won a prize that I have never (knowingly) engaged with, I decided it was worth taking a look at and submitted a request.

The prize we are talking about
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australia, c21st, 16review
Extinctions, by Josephine Wilson, won the 2015 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, and I am not surprised: it is an utterly absorbing novel that I was sorry to finish. Do not let this book slip under your radar just because you’re busy with the Silly Season!
Professor Frederick Lothian, a man so given to discontentment that he complains about his own name, is a retired engineering expert on concrete and a pompous hoarder of modernist furniture. He has finally given in to the exhor
I don’t often get a chance to read the wonderful-sounding Australian books I see on prize shortlists or on friends’ blogs, so I was delighted when Extinctions, which won the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award, was published in the UK last year. It may just be my mind making easy associations, but Josephine Wilson’s second novel indeed reminded me of other Australian fiction I’ve enjoyed, including The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr, Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar, and The Singing Ship by ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Extinctions is a bit of a curate’s egg. Parts of it are excellent. Specifically the first bits.

Frederick Lothian is a retired academic who is seeing out his remaining years in a retirement village outside Perth, Western Australia. He has known better times; he has lived in Britain and the US; he has been a world authority on engineering; he has a fine collection of collectible furniture stacked up in his retirement village unit. And he hates his existence. He is lonely, bored and confined. He li
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Since reading Extinctions I have learnt that two strands of personal experience informed Josephine Wilson’s writing of this novel - the illness and death of both her parents and the adoption of her second child. Extinction is explored through themes of ageing, adoption, aboriginality and extinct species. Fred has entered a retirement village after the death of his wife; Caroline, Fred and Martha’s first child is Aboriginal and has been adopted. Caroline works on exhibitions of extinct species. W ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book and did get caught up with the characters, but it does seem overly hopeful that a grumpy emotionally stilted retired engineering prof can change his ways and become self reflective, sensitive, sociable and caring over the course of one day. Optimistic also that he and his grown up disabled son can live together with 60yo Jan and her 5yo abused grandson. Happy families or deluded fantasy? I think perhaps the book could have ended when daughter Caroline got on the plane ...more
Linda Phillips
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I downloaded this onto my iBook, mainly as it had just been awarded the Miles Franklin literary award.
However, I should have known better than to expect a literary work to be readable. The writing is stodgy and the plot unwinds at a pace slower than any old person on a walking frame could move. By about half way through I gave up caring and just wished for a couple of sudden heart attacks to put us out of our reading misery.
It was not helped by the poor production quality of the ebook, which was
Jaclyn Crupi
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Really enjoyed this, my final read for the @milesfranklinliteraryaward. It's one of those books that tries to sum up a life - the regrets, secrets and clutter - and in doing so makes you reflect on your own. The theme of extinction was brilliantly utilised in many different ways. I found the first third of the book quite hard going but once it hits its stride I was completely absorbed.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book a few weeks ago and was not disappointed. It dealt with big issues in a very warm humane way and the voice of the narrator is male while the author is female giving it an unusual sympathy. It deals with important questions, getting older, our children and what we do right and in this case so wrong, and the precipitous way we either kid ourselves or face the world. It is never too late.
Cassandra Austin
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put it down. Deeply moving and wonderfully complex.
Cass Moriarty
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The last review on my list of books longlisted for this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award is Extinctions (UWA Publishing 2016) by Josephine Wilson. Extinctions is an unusual hybrid of a novel – on one level it is the story of retired engineer 69-year-old Professor Frederick Lothian and his reduced circumstances in his new accommodation in a retirement village. But on another, deeper, level, it is a story about the extinction of a whole host of things, not just his career and his marriage and ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
“Every day was the same. He woke up - if he had slept at all - with an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, and the distinct sense that there was something obscure, malevolent and obsessive lying in wait for him, ready to ambush him when he was at his weakest. Thoughts were ghosts. They were zombies.”

I am in two minds about this book. I can understand why it won the 2015 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, there is definitely something about it that can appeal, but at the s
Helen Hagemann
Jan 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I usually support a same state writer and I also like to read prize winners. In relation to this book Extinctions, a Dorothy Hewett ms award winner and the 2017 Miles Franklin award, I am going to stick my neck out, and say sorry folks! but I thought this book was disappointing :( It was mainly driven by backstory, ie all the relies of Frederick Lothian and Jan's - Fred's neighbour thrown into the mix. The surface level (ie. the literal level) was more interesting, two people meeting in a retire ...more
Ros Hayes
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an engaging story that avoids the cliches of the ageing character- Fred Lothian is a complex man, whose rigidity and avoidance of relationships makes him hard to sympathise with, but whose belated struggles toward honesty and atonement eventually lead to an empathic understanding. Jan's refusal to let him off the hook, or to be stereotyped herself provides the catalyst for change. The pictures are a fascinating alternative messaging - the significance of some of them was not apparent to ...more
Josephine Clarke
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
"fathers are such a great danger to their sons". So many layers in this book. I was intrigued and involved from page one.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story about a retired professor of engineering who, now widowed and living in a retirement village, begins to review his life and the mistakes he's made. Brilliant characterisation and humour, and the ending is very satisfying. My husband has labelled it the 'best book ever'.
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Professor Fred Lothian is a sixty-nine years old former engineer, and has recently moved into a retirement village following the death of his wife Martha. Despite his relatively young age (a statement, I suspect, that says more about me than him!), he is thoroughly encased in old-man-curmudgeonliness, hemmed in by the modernist furniture from his large former home that he was unable to relinquish, disdainful of his neighbours and generally not looking after himself. He is estranged, for varying ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I wondered for quite some time where this story might be headed and it was not in the direction I expected. It seemed at first to be the musings of a widower in his later years, not a very likeable character mulling over the behaviour and circumstances that had brought him to a lonely life in a retirement village surrounded by people he disdained. There is the sense throughout the early chapters that there are events he is repressing and it is only when his gregarious neighbour Jan foists hersel ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Despite being shortlisted for the Franklin, I just cannot share in the judge's enthusiasm.
It's only ok for me. Once I realised it was about a bitter, lonely and guilt-ridden old man, estranged from his family, abandoning his brain damaged son to a care facility and driving his daughter away, who lived in a retirement village next door to Mary Poppins, it was easy to guess the outcome.
However, congratulations on your Miles Franklin prize, Josephine Wilson, you sound like a lovely person. Speaking
Barbara McEwen
This one was interesting. My first thought on finishing was "Where's the rest of it?". Mulling it over a bit I guess it was an ending but I was quite into it by that point.
The book starts out with the main character being so unlikeable it is almost unbearable. I think this is written well, even if it is hard to read. Then he meets another character that inspires him to change (the characters are quite good). The change itself happens really fast though so... not really the most believable? Over
D.M. Cameron
I LOVED this book. I can see why it won the Miles Franklin. The writing in parts is breathtakingly beautiful. I fell in love with these very real characters who made me laugh out loud. I particularly liked the use of imagery. Another brave small press stepping out there and taking a chance that paid off. Well done all involved.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
3.5 stars. This ended in a confusing and abrupt manner and there was a whole lot of varying issues and stories going on inside. I enjoyed it but then there was the feeling that I had to wade through so much to get to the parts that I felt were better parts of the book.

Since this was an Australian book, (winner of the Miles Franklin Award) it wasn't readily available. It was available for Kobo so that's how I ordered it. Unfortunately, this books comes with photographs, images and illustrations.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
What a great read! Wilson has packed a lot of serious issues into a relatively short book and has done so with humour and warmth. Well deserving of its place on the 2017 Miles Franklin Award shortlist I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My admiration for the ambitious nature of Josephine Wilson’s Miles Franklin award winning Extinctions is tempered somewhat by my dissatisfaction with the delivery of crucial ‘action’ within the novel.

The novel is ambitious in that its exploration of the concept of extinction deals
not only with the wiping out of organisms but also with the disintegration of the attitudes, feelings and relationships of the characters within the novel. The recurring image of things
collapsing and becoming extinct
Bronwyn Hope
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Miles Franklin Award winner, ‘Extinctions’ by Josephine Wilson has some strong writing, but so overly overloaded with literary devices and stereotypes it was quite a disappointment.
The book tells the story of Fred, holed up in a retirement home shortly after the death of his wife and who is emotionally scarred by memories of his dead younger brother, Virgil and his brain damaged son, Callum along with his alcoholic father and abusive upbringing. Then in comes his neighbour Jan - a painfully obvi
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, fiction
For a relatively simple story, there is a lot here. It never felt rushed exactly, but I found the dual focus between Caroline and her father frustrating, and never really engaged with Caroline's story.
There is much to like here: the wilfully obtuse narrator is very well done, and it is Fred's internal journey towards looking at things he has refused to look at that carries the momentum of the book. The world of the retirement home is well invoked; as is the upper middle class nuclear family of t
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully crafted novel that explores how our lives are shaped by our own decisions and also how those decisions are influenced by the events of our past, present and future. There were moments of humour, sadness and anger (for me) as Fred grapples with his life and tries to make sense of his own mortality under the fearless guidance of Jan.
I also loved the concept of inserting photos within this novel.
Gary Lawrence
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-written
Prize winners are marked by tight, interesting writing with stories tied together by some, often apparently unrelated idea and a preparedness to leave some strings untied for readers to muse on. The original idea here is extinction of species related to end of life, of relationships, even hope.

The book opens with a descriptive passage looking out the window of a retirement village starting with "Out the window there was nothing that could be called poetry" and finishing "Light, an excess of ligh
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Yield
  • The Weekend
  • Bruny
  • The Choke
  • The Life to Come
  • Too Much Lip
  • The Erratics
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words
  • Wolfe Island
  • The Shepherd's Hut
  • The Death of Noah Glass
  • Boy Swallows Universe
  • Atlantic Black
  • There Was Still Love
  • The Strays
  • The Museum of Modern Love
  • Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark
  • In the Garden of the Fugitives
See similar books…
Josephine Wilson is a Perth-based writer. Her writing career began in the area of performance. Her early works included The Geography of Haunted Places, with Erin Hefferon, and Customs. Her first novel was Cusp, (UWA Publishing, 2005). Josephine has lectured and taught in the tertiary sector. She is the busy parent of two children and works as a sessional staff member at Curtin University, where s ...more

News & Interviews

There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
40 likes · 15 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »