A desert tale of ghosts, death, love, and dislocation.
Pia has come to remote north-western Australia to free her life of complications, but when her dog digs up a bundle of strange treasure on the outskirts of town, she has an uncomfortable feeling that things are about to change. Joachim, an aged-care nurse and freshly recruited foreign worker, cycles the roads on the outskirts of town thinking about his mother's decision to be euthanised. 'What is a good death?' he asks himself. Meanwhile, the widow Barnes, one of Joachim's nursing charges, is still struggling to live on her own terms, even so many years after she has worked herself free of a chronically abusive husband. As these three misfits come together, their worlds collide in ways that they could never have expected. A thoughtful work set against the backdrop of one of Australia's roughest remote mining towns and and the extraordinary Pilbara landscape.
Reviews and testimonials
"It starts absolutely in the desert and there's a lot of mystery about this which I really enjoyed... The characters are given to you in a way that people are... you have to travel with them. I liked that. I liked the detail of their daily lives and also the sense of the setting, the alienation, the loneliness. A beautiful novel... a fine writer... She's one to watch."
– Gail Pittaway, Radio New Zealand.
"Van Loon's novel is faithful to the essential spirit of Australia - to its abiding nihilism. The carking call of a crow ends Xavier Herbert's Capricornia (1938). On its much smaller scale, van Loon's book is a vibrant, telling echo."
– Peter Pierce, Australian Book Review
"This extraordinary novel stands apart from so much current writing for its unsentimental representation of contemporary Australian life... It’s a compelling and very disturbing read that leaves you turning over notions of morality and ethics in the way you might after reading Camus or Highsmith. Both literary and accessible in the best senses of each term."
– Tracy Ryan, poet.
"Thanks MWF [Melbourne Writers Festival) because I now know Julienne van Loon and I suspect I will be a lifelong fan.... I love the pacing of van Loon’s writing. Information is drip fed, but not in the way that makes you want to race to the end and pull it to pieces. Instead, she directs you in each direction, letting you see a little and then taking you elsewhere until eventually, you realise you’ve seen the whole picture, and it is not what you expected."