> Skip to content

A brilliant collection by a great international writer - Malouf's range is dazzling and his canvas is the vast Australian continent, with unsettling glimpses of a world beyond.

Bookish boys and taciturn men, strong women and wayward sons, fathers and daughters, lovers and husbands, a composer and his muse, a builder-architect and his legacy – here are their stories, whole lives brought vividly into focus and so powerfully rooted in the landscape that you can almost feel the heat and the dust. His canvas is the vast Australian continent from the mysterious, glittering Valley of Lagoons behind the Great Divide in Far North Queensland, to bohemian Balmain and the Centre at Uluru, but always there are enticing glimpses of a world beyond, and the stories are tender, subtle, unsettlingly intimate.

A young man going off to war tries to make sense of his place in the world he is leaving; a composer’s life plays itself out as a complex domestic cantata; an accident on a hunting trip speaks volumes, which its inarticulate victim never could; and, in the funniest, most surprising story of all, a down-to-earth woman stubbornly tries to keep her feet on the ground at Ayers Rock. Malouf’smen and women are together but curiously alone, looking for something they seem to have missed, or missed out on, in life, puzzling over the space they’ll leave behind when the waters close over them…

This is a heartbreakingly beautiful, richly satisfying collection by a master storyteller, one of the great writers of our time.


Graceful and unsettling... Malouf's prose is invariably elegant

David Flusfeder, Financial Times

A master of the incisive, seamless, turns-on-a-sixpence short story...this collection is a jewel

Kate Saunders, The Times

Rare and luminous talent...an outstanding collection

Jem Poster, Guardian

At times unsettling in the intensity of their vision, Malouf's stories provide a deeply intelligent meditation on the unknowability of the self

Anna Scott, Observer

Colours and landscapes are evoked in language that, at once lush and direct, is in itself a pleasure and a reminder that Malouf is also a poet of considerable talent

Aamer Hussein, Independent

Contemporary Australia lives and breathes, shudders, groans and even scratches without a trace of inhibition throughout these seven vivid narratives from one of the finest of contemporary writers

Irish Times

His writing here has a fine descriptive delicacy and sensory exactness that act as guarantees of the stories' truth and the authenticity of the experiences they embody

Tom Deveson, Sunday Times

Tender and luminous tales...It is his rich landscapes for which Malouf is most often praised and this collection contains some of the most evocative descriptions of the Australian continent

Chitra Ramaswamy, Scotland on Sunday

Malouf deals with both the vast and the seemingly unimportant... He does it with biting wit, elegance and a rare, uncluttered honesty

Chris Dolan, Saturday Herald

Contemplative, ethereal, sharply perceptive, this collection is a fascinating exploration of the inner worlds that separate and connect us all

Mary Fitzgerald, New Statesman

Poignant and wonderful story...concentrates, without effort, all Malouf's themes...it needs to be read


Malouf, always so precise in his characterisation, so poetic in his evocations of nature and so haunting in his insight into loneliness and frustrated love, is a writer to treasure

Francis Quinn, Literary Review

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    February 1, 2008


    256 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    October 31, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    256 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Also by David Malouf

Being There
The Writing Life
A First Place
The Conversations At Curlew Creek
Harland's Half Acre
The Complete Stories
Dream Stuff
Jane Eyre
The Great World
12 Edmondstone Street
Fly Away Peter
An Imaginary Life
Child's Play
The Conversations At Curlow Creek
Remembering Babylon


The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Gentleman in Moscow
Echo Burning
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Girl on the Train
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Dragonfly In Amber
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Golden House
The Bear and The Nightingale
Ready Player One
The Trip of a Lifetime
On Chesil Beach
Animal Farm
The Light Between Oceans
A Long Way from Home
The Travelling Cat Chronicles