The Sun Walks Down
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE
‘Brilliant, fresh and compulsively readable’
‘A blazing mystery . . . tremendous’
‘Gloriously orchestrated . . . kaleidoscopic’
‘A thrilling success’
WALL STREET JOURNAL
An epic tale of unsettlement, history, myth, art and love – and of a small boy lost in the Australian desert from the prize-winning author of The Night Guest and The High Places.
In September 1883, in a small town in the South Australian outback, six-year-old Denny Wallace goes missing.
As a dust storm sweeps across the landscape, the entire community is caught up in the search. Scouring the desert and mountains, the residents of Fairly – newlyweds, farmers, mothers, artists, Indigenous trackers, cameleers, policemen – confront their relationships with each other and with the ancient land they inhabit. A land haunted by many gods – the sun among them, rising and falling on each day in which Denny could be found, or lost forever.
PRAISE FOR FIONA MCFARLANE
‘I can’t think of another writer working today who I admire more’
KEVIN POWERS, AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE YELLOW BIRDS
‘An extraordinary writer’
MICHELLE DE KRETSER, AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF SCARY MONSTERS
‘McFarlane has a gift for cutting into a story at precisely the right angle’
‘An intelligent and distinctive voice . . . a marvel’
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
‘An exceptionally fine writer’
A blazing mystery set in the colonial outback . . . The writing is tremendous . . . This is a beguiling novel, not just of ideas about history and place but of fiercely beautiful translations -- Elizabeth Lowry * Guardian * A sensitive, slow-burn panorama of society in colonial Australia. Moving persuasively between a vast, impressively diverse array of characters, young and old, incoming and indigenous, privileged and deprived, she lets us listen in on their private (often competing) hopes and desires as the community pulls together to hunt for the boy. The result is moving and masterful - rich slices of life made vivid by the old-fashioned nitty-gritty of flesh-and blood character-making -- Anthony Cummins * Daily Mail * Ambitious . . . McFarlane amplifies her theme in ways that are often touching and ingenious . . . its style is at once spare and attentive to detail, and Fiona McFarlane has a sharp eye for historical injustices -- Andrew Motion * Times Literary Supplement * A thrilling success . . . A novel full of mystery and wonder * Wall Street Journal * Gloriously orchestrated . . . kaleidoscopic . . . This book earns its place by the simultaneous seriousness and playfulness of its commitment to all the voices in the contested times and spaces of its setting. McFarlane knows what she's doing, and she does it exceptionally well -- Sarah Moss * Irish Times * This novel is also made hypnotic by its wonderfully atmospheric dreaminess -- Andrew Martin * Mail on Sunday * McFarlane's treatment of the dust storm has a simple Steinbeckian majesty . . . Her prose is full of detail, comparable to Claire Keegan's keen-eyed novellas, Foster and Small Things Like These -- Claire Lowdon * Sunday Times * Ambitious . . . McFarlane's figures emerge in intricate detail, defined by their petty desires, their moral imperfections, and their relationship both to the cataclysm of colonization and to the grandiosity of the landscape and the sun * New Yorker * Masterful storytelling . . . Tension mounts every time tragedy looms or disaster strikes. We read on with queasy dread when the spotlight falls on frightened and exhausted Denny . . . But we also read on captivated by the novel's beautiful prose and polyphonic voices, and marveling at both its epic scope and rare intimacy * Washington Post * In precise, often glorious prose, the novel affords each character, including little Denny, a rich interiority, even as the landscape itself - a terrain layered with significance and myth for aboriginal peoples, while for Europeans "civilization" there appears thin - provokes awe . . . With this remarkable novel, McFarlane establishes her place in the firmament of Australian letters, reworking and expanding the imaginary of its early years -- Claire Messud * Harper's * Fiona McFarlane's last book was scintillating. The Sun Walks Down is even better. It's compelling: old-fashioned in all the best ways, historically sensitive, generous in storytelling and yet modern and sharp -- Sarah Moss, author of SUMMERWATER The Sun Walks Down is the book I'm always longing to find: brilliant, fresh and compulsively readable. It is marvellous. I loved it from start to finish -- Ann Patchett, author of THE DUTCH HOUSE Gorgeous storytelling and superb characters are among the glories of The Sun Walks Down. Fiona McFarlane is an extraordinary writer, one of the best working today. Her magnificent reworking of the lost child story showcases the profound understanding she brings to people, places and the past. I lived in this wise, majestic novel for days and never wanted it to end -- Michelle de Kretser, author of SCARY MONSTERS An exceptional, multi-layered historical novel with a beautifully styled plot. The power with which Fiona McFarlane evokes the place and time is extraordinary - a gorgeously written book -- Evie Wyld, author of THE BASS ROCK Quite simply, the best novel I've ever read about 19th-century Australia. A tense search for a lost child unfolds with rising dread against a landscape of harsh and radiant beauty, amid lives as tangled as barbed wire -- Geraldine Brooks, author of HORSE The Sun Walks Down is a revelation. McFarlane places her lens first over the disappearance of a small boy in the Australian Outback and zooms out, weaving the stories of the people involved in the search for him into a tapestry as richly imagined and fully realized as anything I've read in recent memory. Her sentences fit together with the beauty of fine carpentry, and with them she's constructed a novel that calls to my mind no less than Patrick White's The Tree of Man. I can't think of another writer working today who I admire more -- Kevin Powers, author of THE YELLOW BIRDS Mesmerising . . . It's a story with the quality of a myth or fable, that somehow manages to seem both restrained and infinite at once. And if that's all sounding a bit hoity-toity, be assured it's an engrossing mystery * Sydney Morning Herald * An extraordinary work of fiction that I have no doubt will become a classic of Australian literature -- Emily Bitto, author of THE STRAYS This tale of a farming community's search for a missing child offers intimate human drama, ruminations on the intersections of art and life, and a sweeping, still relevant view of race and class in Australia . . . A masterpiece of riveting storytelling * Kirkus * Taut, rich, intelligent and mesmerizing * ABC News * The Sun Walks Down is a brilliant, intimate epic, a book about a family and also about history that is full of heart and heat. Fiona McFarlane's ear for the gurgles and clamor and hidden symphonies of her characters' souls is flawless; the way their lives intertwine is propulsive, heartbreaking. She is, simply, one of the best writers around -- Elizabeth McCracken, author of THE HERO OF THIS BOOK With a child missing in remote Australia, this may sound like any recent 'outback noir' thriller - but McFarlane's beautifully written second novel has much more in common with Lanny by Max Porter or Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor: all vibrant, otherworldly stories of a small community in flux, discombobulated by a singular tragedy * Guardian Australia * The Sun Walks Down is that rare kind of novel, where there is something to enjoy and admire on every page. McFarlane's elegant, sharply observed prose beautifully conjures an unforgettable time and place -- Carys Davies, author of THE MISSION HOUSE
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