This is Australia, an unnamed, dead-end town in the heart of the outback—a desolate place of gas stations, fast-food franchises, and labyrinthine streets: flat and nearly abandoned. When a young writer arrives to research just such depressing middles-of-nowhere as they are choked into oblivion, he finds something more sinister than economic depression: the ghost towns of Australia appear to be literally disappearing. An epidemic of mysterious holes is threatening his new home’s very existence, and this discovery plunges the researcher into an abyss of weirdness from which he may never escape.
Dark, slippery and unsettling, Shaun Prescott’s debut resurrects the existential novel for the age of sprawl and blight, excavates a nation’s buried history of colonial genocide, and tells a love story that asks if outsiders can ever truly belong anywhere. The result is a disquieting classic that vibrates with an occult power.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2020. New hardback; 256 pages