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  • Published: 7 February 2023
  • ISBN: 9780143796657
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $32.99


The daughter of a celebrity must discover who is worthy of her devotion and who is just a fan.

It’s been twenty years since her mother was photographed, blood-soaked, outside the family home. A famous TV food personality, she fled the country. Since that time, the girl has grown up. She’s bought an apartment, learned her own cooking style, fallen in love. She lives a quiet life, working as a copywriter for a health insurance company. She’s found happiness, finally.

But strange things are in the air. Her easygoing boyfriend has started sleeping with men. Her mother is selling the infamous family home. And a glamorous, pregnant neighbour has moved into the apartment downstairs, calling into question everything the girl believes about her own desires.

Among conspiracies, dubious loyalties, and mercenary impulses, how do we work out who is worthy of our devotion and who is just a fan? Shirley charts a search for meaning in a world where the fracturing of ambitions – work and purpose, real estate and home, family and love – has left us uncertain how to recognise ourselves.

  • Published: 7 February 2023
  • ISBN: 9780143796657
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Ronnie Scott

Ronnie Scott's first novel The Adversary was shortlisted for a Queensland Literary Award and the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. He teaches Creative Writing at RMIT.

Also by Ronnie Scott

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Praise for Shirley

A very astute, very stylish and very funny novel that establishes Ronnie Scott as a tremendously gifted social portraitist. I was enthralled.

Michelle de Kretser

Razor sharp and original writing that is funny and profound. Ronnie Scott is a major talent.

Annabel Crabb, Chat 10 Looks 3

Ronnie Scott’s Shirley is the book I’ve been waiting for: intimate, elegant and gritty. I absolutely adore Shirley.

Laura Jean McKay

Beautifully perceptive, Ronnie Scott’s Shirley unfolds with an elegant tension that is a tantalising delight.

Mirandi Riwoe

Shirley is playful and mournful and utterly captivating. Ronnie Scott's new novel radiates warmth and wisdom, and it confirms him as one of the most exciting writers working today.

Andrew Pippos

Shirley is funny, timely and constantly surprising. There’s no other writer quite like Ronnie Scott.

Victoria Hannan

A beautiful, arresting, and incredibly funny novel about growing into oneself and learning to love without ego.

Ellena Savage

The most interesting protagonist I’ve read in years. Scott is at once our very own Anita Brookner and a unique and distinctly modern author who writes our world, our fears, and our foibles for us.

Laura McPhee-Browne

Scott writes with the narrative intimacy of someone like Helen Garner, inviting you deeply into a life . . . Finishing the book comes with a sense of loss, that you won’t be able to just wander past the house or pop into our narrator’s apartment for a martini.

Bec Kavanagh, The Guardian

Shirley is assured, blackly funny and playful . . . Scott’s struggling, self-perceptive characters see themselves as vulnerable, yet smarter than their therapists. Could existential dread and irony come any funnier or more poignant?

Gay Lynch, The Conversation

Shirley is an engaging read with a dynamic female lead that makes a refreshing change from all the 'sad girl' novels that fill the new release shelves. It sparkles with great dialogue, believable characters, hunger-inducing descriptions of food and a vivid inner-city setting. Its interesting observations about love and trust, foodie culture, work-life balance, and the relationship between employers and their staff are simply an added bonus.

Kim Forrester, Reading Matters

Awards & recognition

NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Shortlisted  •  2024  •  Christina Stead Prize for Fiction