Winner of The 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript
Garreth Hoyle is a true crime writer whose destructive love affair with hallucinogenic drugs has sent him searching for ghosts in the unforgiving mallee desert of Western Australia. Heading north through Kalgoorlie, he attempts to score off old friends from his shearing days on Banjawarn Station. His journey takes an unexpected detour when he discovers an abandoned ten-year-old girl and decides to return her to her estranged father in Leonora, instead of alerting authorities. Together they begin the road trip from hell through the scorched heart of the state’s northern goldfields.
Love, friendship and hope are often found in the strangest places, but forgiveness is never simple, and the past lies buried just beneath the blood red topsoil. The only question is whether Hoyle should uncover it, or run as fast as his legs can take him.
Banjawarn is an unsettling debut from Josh Kemp. Echoing Cormac McCarthy’s haunting border trilogy and narrative vernacular that recalls the sparse lyricism of Randolph Stow and Tim Winton, this is a darkly funny novel that earns its place amongst the stable of Australian gothic literature.
This week ….
This week sees another work by a West Australian author land in my post box. I think this is the year that WA authors will shine. Banjarwarn is the debut novel, winner of The 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript written by Josh Kemp, a resident of the South West of Western Australia.
This book is about landscapes both familiar and alien, and sometimes they are both at the same time. 🙂 The red dirt, the remoteness, the regional towns of Kalgoorlie and Leonora are all too familiar, we took a caravan trip through these towns ( and further) last year ( and lots of my recent abstract landscapes were inspired by these areas, their remoteness, their bold colours, their atmosphere). Kemp captures these moody, vast, isolated, locations perfectly.
The landscape of drug abuse – PCP and ‘meth is one I am not so familiar with and Kemp paints a picture that shocks and yet informs and somehow is empathetic.
This book defies being defined as this or that. It is a love story, it has gothic echoes, it is a story of drug abuse, it is a story of compassion and friendship…it is a story of a harsh landscape and ultimately it is a story of hope.
I do hope you get an opportunity to read this one.
PS the cover art perfectly depicts the remote and wild country that the book rests on.