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The year is 1977, and Adrian is nine. He lives with his gran and his uncle Rory; his best friend is Clinton Tull. He loves to draw and he wants a dog; he's afraid of quicksand and self-combustion.

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize

The year is 1977, and Adrian is nine. He lives with his gran and his uncle Rory; his best friend is Clinton Tull. He loves to draw and he wants a dog; he's afraid of quicksand and self-combustion. Adrian watches his suburban world, but there is much he cannot understand. He does not for instance, know why three neighbourhood children might set out to buy ice-cream and never come back home . . .

'Far away the best new Australian piece of fiction I have read, rivalling the achievements of Thursday's child.' Peter Craven, The Age

'The writing is spare, the images crystalline . . .remarkable.' The Guardian (UK)

'Hartnett's work is a gem, the climax as taut as a triller and . . . heart wrenching.' Weekend Australian

'Effortlessly moving form matter-of-fact to mystical, at times exquisitely painful to read, Of a Boy is an almost suffocatingly powerful evocation of the emotional life of the very young . . . [for] anyone who recalls being a child. And everyone who doesn't.' Sydney Morning Herald

'Sonya Hartnett's Hauntingly beautiful part-family drama, part-mystery, captures the vulnerability of childhood and has a high-voltage ending you'll find hard to forget.' Australian Women's Weekly

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780143571759

    August 27, 2014

    Penguin

    208 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781742283395

    November 24, 2003

    Penguin eBooks

    204 pages

    Online retailers

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  • EBook

    9781742531557

    October 19, 2000

    Penguin eBooks

    204 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
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    • eBooks

Awards and Recognition

  • Commonwealth Writers Prize (UK)
    2003
    Winner
    Best Book
  • The Age Book of the Year
    2003
    Winner
    Fiction
  • NSW Premier's Literary Awards
    2003
    Shortlisted
    Fiction
  • Orange Prize for Fiction (UK)
    2003
    Longlisted
    Fiction
  • The Miles Franklin Literary Award
    2003
    Shortlisted
    Fiction
  • Victorian Premier's Literary Award
    2003
    Shortlisted
    Fiction
  • International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
    2004
    Longlisted
    Fiction