> Skip to content

From the creator of Offspring comes a smart, moving and wry portrait of one man's desire to make a difference.

Sullivan Moss is useless.

Once a charming underachiever, he's now so hopeless that he even fails his attempt to end it all. Waking up in hospital after falling the wrong way on a rooftop, he comes to a decision. After a life of regrets, Sully wants to do one useful thing. If he can't make something of himself, maybe someone else can. He's going to donate a kidney to a stranger.

As he scrambles over the hurdles to become a donor, Sully almost accidentally forges a new life for himself. Sober and employed, he makes new friends and begins to patch things up with old ones. But altruism is not as easy as it seems. Just when he thinks he's got himself together, Sully discovers there are more temptations than ever to fall apart.

From the creator of Offspring comes a smart, moving and wry portrait of one man's desire to make a difference.

'Debra Oswald it the master of character.' Eddie Perfect
'Brimming with insight, mesmerizing, and above all, true.' Geraldine Brooks

'With characteristic charm, wit and humanity, Debra Oswald has crafted an irresistible story of metamorphosis.' Nick Earls

'An expert story-teller . . . Useful is a very funny and entertaining novel that also gets you right in the heart (and in the kidneys).' Malcolm Knox

'Wry, moving and clever, this is an interesting and funny rumination on life, friendship and people's capacity for change.' Weekend Post

Reviews

Debra Oswald is the master of character; no one escapes the truth yet no one is beyond redemption. Useful tossed my emotions around like a summer salad, with characters that are tragically broken yet supremely loveable.

Eddie Perfect

Reading Debra Oswald's Useful, you can fall into the warm embrace of an expert story-teller. Here are characters to love and laugh with, situations that test them and reveal their natures, and resolution that satisfies on every level. But then – wham – just as you feel the comfort of being inside a well-told story, you are slammed by the big questions. Useful is a very funny and entertaining novel that also gets you right in the heart (and in the kidneys).

Malcolm Knox

'Wry, moving and clever, this is an interesting and funny rumination on life, friendship and people's capacity for change.'

Weekend Post

A moving, at times hilarious and wry portrait of one man's desire to redeem himself and become a 'useful' member of society.

Weekly Times

Oswald writes with humour and insight, creating complex and believable characters.

Daily Mercury

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780143573739

    February 1, 2016

    Penguin

    320 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
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781743483343

    January 28, 2015

    Penguin eBooks

    320 pages

    Online retailers

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

Awards and Recognition

  • Fellowship of Australian Writers Awards
    2016
    Winner
    Christina Stead Award (Fiction)
  • Indie Award
    2016
    Longlisted
    Fiction

Also by Debra Oswald