"In her flat above Drylands' newsagency Janet Deakin is writing a book for the world's last reader. Little has changed here in fifty years, except for the coming of cable TV. Loneliness is almost a religion, and still everyone knows your business.
"But the town is being outmanoeuvred by drought and begins to empty, pouring itself out like water into sand. Small minds shrink even smaller in the vastness of the land. One man is forced out by council rates and bigotry; another sells his property, risking the lot to build his dream. And all of them are shadowed by violence of some sort - these people whose only victory over the town is in leaving it."
"It is impossible to put this book down. It seethes with energy and passion." - Herald Sun
"Drylands is a wake-up call for millennial Australia...Astley's brilliance rests only in her distinctive prose style but her willingness and courage to make social statements, to assemble portraits of pain as a bridge to compassion." - The Bulletin
'I've never sailed the Amazon. I've never reached Brazil,' she quoted, and I've never been to a literary festival or a poetry reading, she thought, and listened to poets read, awed by their own genius.
A lot of things she hadn't done. Sitting now, useless maybe, in her upstairs flat with a view of the town's pub, grocery store, unused picture show, council building and primary school skulking by the wattles near where the creek used to flow. But I might write a book - something - she decided, having the wherewithal: table, typewriter, a new ream of paper, and angry ideas.
And alone-time in the hot evenings.
From the Penguin paperback edition, 2000.
This novel was awarded the 2000 Miles Franklin Award.
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Last modified: November 16, 2004.