The silence and red-dirt heat of the WA Goldfields’ mulga country is the stark canvas of Josh Kemp’s stunning debut novel Banjawarn, in which true crime writer Garreth Hoyle seeks redemption for his past and finds a reckoning with stranger truths.
Hoyle is haunted by his shearing days on Banjawarn Station and childhood memories that he blots away with hallucinogenic drugs and reclusive journeys to remote country. But there is a streak of honour in him that he can’t quell. His reunion with Kerryn, an old Banjawarn hand, forces his better nature to the surface as they reluctantly help an abandoned ten-year-old girl to reunite with her father. But no good deed goes unpunished.
The joint winner of the 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, Kemp’s Banjawarn is a lucid dream steeped in unsparing and poetic Australian gothic prose, mapping a “road trip from hell” that goes the long way up to the light.