Blood and Bone

Winner of the Viva La Novella Prize 2014

Blood and Bone is the tale of a man haunted by the violent truths of his ancestry. Through his attempt to document the remarkable child-hood of his great-aunt Abigail, we are thrown into life at the Whangie, an austere outpost at the colonial frontier. With the death of her mother, eleven-year-old Abigail must learn to fend for herself against the cruel stewardship of her father. At war with the local Aboriginals and intent on staking his claim on the land at any cost, what occurs between the two is a stunning powerplay that exposes the limits of the human imagination. Inhabiting the speculative peripheries of the historical record, Blood and Bone is an uncompromising exploration of Australia’s dark history and its legacy today.

Media Reviews

Blood and Bone fulfils two objectives: shedding light on a dark past, and exploring intellectual and aesthetic problems that the writing of such a story might create. … [T]he tale is made seamless by a tight structure and a hypnotic style that seems to owe something to the work of Gerald Murnane.

— Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

This story, dealing with failures of connection and the denial of shared humanity, is related through a framing narration that draws deliberate attention to the ways in which the author’s imaginative ownership of the narrative may be contested. … The narration describes the process of historical research alongside the story that it generates, and in doing so, he repeatedly reminds the reader of the distance between himself and his subjects. While his research into the period affords some capacity to recreate imaginatively the facts of their experience, [the] narrator acknowledges that his attempts to capture the internal thoughts, emotions, and motivations of nineteenth-century characters like Scrymgeour and his daughter are dubious, and that he is unavoidably perceiving them through the lens of contemporary values, knowledge, and language. … [T]his is true of all historical fiction to some degree, but the uncomfortably self-aware narration denies the reader the expected verisimilitude, constantly reminding us that what we are reading is an achingly incomplete reconstruction of the past.

— Julian Novitz, Sydney Review of Books

Reader Reviews

What sort of a book is it? Is it a Gerald Murnane-Cormac McCarthy lovechild? It’s a little bit that, although it seems impolite to pigeonhole a writer in such a way; really, every author exists in his or her own beautiful orbit.

— Emily Stewart

This book sits at the very peak of Australian literature… Australians need to celebrate such talent [and] laud these brave and interesting literary voices… This may well be the finest contemporary novel by an Australian author about Australia.

— Toby, Goodreads

A powerful and brutal little book.

— Leah, Goodreads

Highly impactful, even shocking… an important novel.

— Ilyhana, Goodreads

This book was recommended to me and it didn’t disappoint. It is written in an unusual style with the author/narrator becoming front and centre at times, explaining how the story develops, and how he has attempted to fill in the gaps which exist in historical records. … The story is brutal and bloody and not for the faint-hearted but it provides an insight into a man, his daughter, and their struggles to survive in a very inhospitable place.

— Lachlan, Goodreads