A stunning literary debut that takes the reader into the mysteries and truths that lie at the heart of our country.
In the rear vision, the road was golden and straight and even, its length making sense of the sky, of the vast black cloud that was set to engulf it. I pulled over and got out. Stared at it, this gleaming snake - where I'd been, where it was going. The route that Jed had once taken.
After years of travelling, Saul is trying to settle down. But one night he receives the devastating news of the death of his oldest friend, Jed, recently returned from working in a remote Aboriginal community. Saul's discovery in Jed's belongings of a photo of a woman convinces him that she may hold the answers to Jed's fate. So he heads out on a journey into the heart of the Australian desert to find the truth, setting in motion a powerful story about the landscapes that shape us and the ghosts that lay their claim.
The Crying Place is a haunting, luminous novel about love, country, and the varied ways in which we grieve. In its unflinching portrayal of the borderlands where worlds come together, and the past and present overlap, it speaks of the places and moments that bind us. The myths that draw us in. And, ultimately, the ways in which we find our way home.
"The desert is a place constructed of stories, every one of them true."
About the Author
Lia Hills is a poet, novelist and translator. Her debut novel, The Beginner's Guide to Living, was released to critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Victorian, Queensland and Western Australian Premiers' Literary Awards and the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It has been translated into several languages. Other works include her award-winning poetry collection the possibility of flight and her translation of Marie Darrieussecq’s acclaimed novel, Tom is Dead. She lives with her family in the hills outside Melbourne.
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4.5 stars The Crying Place is the second novel by Australian poet, novelist and translator, Lia Hills. When Saul learns of his friend's suicide, he sets off on a sort of pilgrimage: a trek into the Australian desert to find Nara, the woman Jed had described as "his country", and to try to understand what had pushed his friend to this awful act.
His search is, by no means, straightforward, and the answers not necessarily those he seeks. Saul's journey is as much an introspective one, exhuming from within memories of earlier times with Jed, and he has "a sense in that moment – just as I had that night by the river – that there was a gaping truth at the heart of his words. That somehow he had access to the future in a way I never would."
As Saul connects with the place and the people, wise words and good advice are offered: "All you gotta do is take a walk out there beyond the gap and you'll come up with a hundred new types of divinity before sunset. But me, you know what I found? I found people, and some good ones at that. The kind who'll let a man fumble for words when he sees something he doesn't understand, and allow him his silence when saying nothing is about as much as he can manage"
This novel explores love and grief and also highlights the importance to indigenous people of connection to place, of rituals like sorry camp, of not saying the deceased's name, of ancient myths and of being "on country". While in the first instance, the meaning of indigenous words is explained, a glossary of Pitjantjatjara words would have been handy.
It's a serious tale but not without humour. Anyone who had White forced on them in high school can relate to this: "I browsed through the fiction box… A clutch of Patrick Whites. I hadn't read White since uni, where I'd treated him like eating bony fish – good for you but just too much work". Within this gorgeous cover is contained a moving and thought-provoking tale that will stay with the reader long after the last page is t
Number Of Pages: 480
Published: 22nd February 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3