The Rain Heron
**SHORTLISTED FOR THE MILES FRANKLIN LITERARY AWARD 2021**
‘Astonishing… With the intensity of a perfect balance between the mythic and the real, The Rain Heron keeps turning and twisting, taking you to unexpected places. A deeply emotional and satisfying read. Beautifully written.’ Jeff VanderMeer, author of Borne
Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading – and forgetting. But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a legendary creature, Ren is inexorably drawn into an impossible mission. As their lives entwine, unravel and erupt – as myth merges with reality – both Ren and the soldier are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear.
A vibrant homage to the natural world, bursting with beautiful landscapes and memorable characters, The Rain Heron is a beautifully told eco-fable about our fragile and dysfunctional relationships with the planet and with each other, the havoc we wreak and the price we pay.
‘I was transfixed’ Catherine Lacey, author of Pew
‘Fantastic’ Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviours
Arnott's eco-fable, set in a politically broken near future, explores the constant push-pull that exists between our capacity for enchantment and our need to exploit what we find. It's sad and satisfying. * The Times * Written with economy and grace, The Rain Heron is a timeless and poignant meditation on our fragile relationship with the natural environment. * Guardian * A quietly unsettling fable... Arnott writes vibrantly about the harsh wonder of nature, his vivid characters becoming almost animal themselves. * Observer * Each narrative thread could stand as a shocking, beautiful and moral short story in its own right, but Robbie Arnott weaves them seamlessly together into a satisfying whole. * Scotsman * Astonishing... With the intensity of a perfect balance between the mythic and the real, The Rain Heron keeps turning and twisting, taking you to unexpected places. A deeply emotional and satisfying read. Beautifully written. * Jeff VanderMeer, author of Borne * The Rain Heron is a patient and rooted fable told as naturally as a tree grows. With timeless and captivating prose, Robbie Arnott has a talent for making it look easy. I was transfixed. * Catherine Lacey, author of Pew * The Rain Heron is fantastic. The ripping pace of a thriller combined with the emotional complexity of a Shakespearian tragedy, delivered in diamond-sharp prose. It pulls you into a world of myths come to life, where environmental destruction collides with socio-political decay, and you can't help but feel for all the characters as they navigate through the wreckage. Highly recommended. * Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviours * A searing exploration of the entanglement of internal and external nature, and the human mind's unconscious pull towards dominating [nature]...Arnott is brilliant at writing the natural world. * Kill Your Darlings * Arnott's vision coalesces into an affecting narrative, charged with symbolism and characters who hold trauma, pain and cruelty in the same space... His is a lyrical, natural style that combines the expansiveness of a fable with fully realised detail. * Saturday Paper * Arnott weaves a narrative that feels both timely and timelessly engaging. A powerful meditation on human greed and frailty, The Rain Heron also leaves room for redemption. This bracing follow-up to Flames will reinforce Arnott's reputation for unusual, risk-taking literary fiction. * Laura Elizabeth Woollett, Australian Book Review * Unlike anything I have ever read. As luminescent as it is devastating, Arnott's tightly-wrought storytelling reveals the myriad harms we wreak both on our planet and on each other. It is mesmerising. * Ruth Gilligan * The Rain Heron is genuinely and completely magnificent - a magical thing. * Robert Lukins * The Rain Heron is literary art. Robbie Arnott has deftly crafted an audacious idea into an original, compelling work. Nothing is overdone or superfluous. * Australian * The Rain Heron is exquisite. Reading it feels like hearing a legend from our past, from our near future; like remembering something you had always known but somehow forgotten. It is both fantastical and deeply true. * Jane Rawson * Robbie Arnott imagines a thoroughly strange, inky-dark land of the near future. Sharp and original, The Rain Heron is a beautiful novel about love, violence and redemption. * Laura Elvery * A book full of heart - it's so richly imagined, inventive and beautifully written, with a strong message, but is never didactic. It's like nothing I've read. * J. P. Pomare * The Rain Heron is an intoxicating fable from an extraordinary imagination. Robbie Arnott writes like the words want to be his. * Anna Spargo-Ryan * Robbie Arnott is singlehandedly reinventing Australian literature. The Rain Heron is a soaring feat of the imagination. * Bram Presser * With its emotional power and rich symbolism, The Rain Heron is an immersion in landscape, climate and an animal world that lives despite us, not for us. * Jock Serong * The Rain Heron is a beautifully told story in four parts, in which the line between reality and myth is impossible to draw... Arnott expertly navigates the fraught relationships between humans and the natural world, and paints shades of grey into moments that for a lesser writer would be purely black and white... A compelling, original read. * Elizabeth Flux, Books+Publishing * A strange and curious book...The craft is extraordinary. * The Bookshelf, Radio National * A story of survival, an ecological thriller weighted with a mythological perspective, and a dystopian adventure...This is a novel that beautifully captures people at war with themselves, with each other, with nature-and it's a taut, tense thriller at the same time...It is the perfect book to read now. It brings us closer and it steadies the world just a little. * Readings * Full of enchanted realism...[Arnott] writes on behalf of the fierce dedication necessary for anyone to be her best self. This is a lofty ambition but it is what great stories demand from us: figurative blood, figurative tears, and a commitment to witness the world in all its wonder. * Age * The Rain Heron confirms [Robbie Arnott's] place as one of Australia's leading young novelists...As myths collide with reality, Arnott's imaginative dark novel ends with a sobering uplift, reaffirming that ultimately relationships and kindness matter * Canberra Times * Arnott's writing is clear and compelling * New Yorker *
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