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Ranging around the world from a remote Pacific island to outback Australia to the tourist haunts of Greece, these stories are written with extraordinary invention, great emotional insight and wry humour. Each one of them is as rich and rewarding as literature can be.

The Night Guest introduced an Australian writer 'with the promise of literary greatness' (Los Angeles Times). The High Places delivers on that promise.

The dazzling stories in this collection find those moments when people confront the strangeness and mystery of their lives. The revelations of intimidating old friends on holiday. An accident on a dark country road. A marine biologist in conversation with the ghost of Charles Darwin. The sudden arrival of American parachutists in a Queensland country town. A lottery win. A farmer troubled by miracles in the middle of a drought . . . The people in The High Places are jolted into seeing themselves from a fresh and often disconcerting perspective.

Ranging around the world from a remote Pacific island to outback Australia to the tourist haunts of Greece, these stories are written with extraordinary invention, great emotional insight and wry humour. Each one of them is as rich and rewarding as literature can be.

'This felt like a writer who was pitch perfect and just hit it on the nail with this book. We were all really impressed by, bluntly, a genius.' Dai Smith, Chair of Judges, Dylan Thomas Prize

'The High Places is superb . . . It's not just that McFarlane's descriptions are beautiful prose, though they are. The High Places is more deliberate than that, and more intelligent. McFarlane strikes an emotional note on every page, whether it be humour or nostalgia or discomfort or joy . . . Each story feels fresh and original . . . Nothing is forced and the reason I can't pick my favourite is that every one of the 13 stories is a winner.' The Saturday Paper
'Laden with wry wit and a deceptive simplicity . . . Moves boldly between place, perspective and voice, describing situations that manage to be both hysterically funny and quietly devastating at the same time . . . These singular images speak to the larger universal experience that is recognisable, discomfiting and always surprising.' Books & Publishing
'This fine-tuned collection . . . is an impressive follow-up to the Sydney author's 2013 novel, The Night Guest. McFarlane glides through time and place with expert ease . . . The highlight? McFarlane's knack for rendering everyday life as remarkable.' Who Weekly
'It is one thing to abandon a story because it's poorly written, quite another to stop because it's too good. And yet that is what I did with 'Unnecessary Gifts' from Fiona McFarlane's debut collection of short fiction . . . The variousness of geographical setting in McFarlane's stories suggests the roving modernist cosmopolitanism of Christina Stead or Michelle de Kretser . . . She seems equally at home in past and present, city and country; writing in the mode of dun-coloured realism or the ecstatic epiphanic . . . McFarlane reminds us the world revivified by the artist's imagination, made strange and new, may be the only one in which we truly see.' Geordie Williamson, Weekend Australian
'While the stories in The High Places are imaginative, playful, and intellectually sophisticated, it is no overstatement to suggest that their power resides in the authority of McFarlane's style, not just in her ideas. McFarlane's sentences fizz with imagery and exhibit a highly poetic sense of cadence and rhythm . . . Highly assured, comic but kind, an effervescent admixture of fable, magic realism, and irony. Impressively, the stories resist closure, opening out into more questions than answers; they are constitutionally agnostic, despite their keen interest in belief . . . Remarkable.' Australian Book Review
'McFarlane's people, or characters, because they exist in a liminal state unattached to reality, make ordinariness odd. It's a vertiginous world, a Kirchner or Munch . . . McFarlane has an intelligent and distinctive voice and she's a marvel at conjuring atmosphere.' The Age
'This collection of short stories will have you convinced that Fiona McFarlane can read people's minds . . . She uses this insight to explore the weird-edge bits of life, mysteries and memories and lies both white and juicy . . . McFarlane writes as though her characters are sharing their deepest secrets with you, and reading them is a privilege.' Yen
'Those who enjoyed McFarlane's debut novel The Night Guest, which was shortlisted for numerous literary awards, will once again find delight in the heightened realism of her quirky storytelling . . . Take your time reading these stories, so rich with irony.' Courier Mail

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781926428567

    February 1, 2016

    Hamish Hamilton

    288 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

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

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781743480618

    February 1, 2016

    Penguin eBooks (AU Adult)

    288 pages

    Online retailers

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

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Article
High Places Reading Notes

An inspired book club selection: The High Places by Fiona McFarlane.

Awards and Recognition

  • 2016
    Queensland Literary Awards Steele Rudd Prize
    Joint winner
  • 2016
    Queensland Literary Awards Steele Rudd Prize
    Joint winner
  • 2016
    Readings New Australian Writing Award
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Readings New Australian Writing Award
    Shortlisted
  • 2017
    The International Dylan Thomas Prize
    Winner
  • 2017
    The International Dylan Thomas Prize
    Winner
  • 2017
    ALS Gold Medal for Australian Literature
    Longlisted
  • 2017
    ALS Gold Medal for Australian Literature
    Longlisted
  • 2017
    The Stella Prize
    Longlisted
  • 2017
    The Stella Prize
    Longlisted

Also by Fiona McFarlane

The Night Guest