Winner, The Australian/Vogel's Award, 2004
Shortlisted, West Australian Premier's Book Award (Fiction), 2005
Shortlisted, Commonwealth Writers First Book Award (Asia and South Pacific Region), 2006
Diana Kooper runs from a car crash in the heart of Sydney, scarcely looking back, leaving her best friend, Nicole, slumped and bloody in the damaged vehicle.
After hitching a ride to the far west of New South Wales, Diana takes a job as a kitchenhand at Bob's, an isolated truck-stop. At first she thinks she can predict the sort of rhythm her life will follow in this dusty, diesel-driven, lonely stop but soon a series of unsettling events disturb the order of things. A dog is brutally stabbed to death and left as a warning beside one of the petrol bowsers. And when Bob rolls his ute in suspicious circumstances, Diana is left to look after the roadhouse kitchen on her own. As every-day life becomes increasingly challenging, Diana struggles with her past and with the ghosts that haunt her present.
Review and testimonials
"Raw, direct and passionate, the assurance of van Loon's novel should distract no-one from the integrity and the intelligence which give weight to it."
- James Bradley, Judge, The Australian/Vogel's Award, 2004
"'Dianna Kooper is running.' This is the first sentence of van Loon's evocative debut novel and it only takes a page or two to discover why."
– Tony Wilson, The Monthly.
"Road Story is a striking debut by a young writer and bodes well for Julienne van Loon’s future work. The title might suggest a quest for redemption. What will be found on the road? There are echoes of Kerouac, or, in another medium, the road movie. But van Loon is out to subvert all notions of coming good… a bold narrative experiment.”
– Ingrid Wassenaar, The Sydney Morning Herald.
"Julienne van Loon’s desperate joyride, Road Story, is the best Vogel winner to come along since 1990."
– Peter Pierce, Australian Book Review.
"A toughly written, insistent novel that leaves us tasting red dust and the bitterness of unfulfilled, damaged lives."
– The Australian