The Town

Shaun Prescott

‘The Town really got under my skin. There’s a deceptive lightness to Shaun Prescott’s style, so this is a book that really creeps up on the reader: all of a sudden you’re swept away by – even bound to – this thing that’s so mournful, intense, and unsettling. It will stay with me.’ – Lisa McInerney

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But there had been a war. Everyone was certain of it, though it had been a long time since.

This is Australia: an unnamed, dead-end town in the heart of the outback. A young writer arrives in New South Wales to research local settlements that are slowly vanishing into oblivion – but he didn’t expect these ghost towns to literally disappear before his eyes. When an epidemic of mysterious holes threatens the town’s existence, he is plunged into an abyss of weirdness from which he may never recover.

Dark, slippery and unsettling, Shaun Prescott’s debut novel achieves many things. It excavates a nation’s buried history of colonial genocide, and tells a love story that asks if outsiders can ever truly belong. Through a glass darkly, The Town examines the shadowy underbelly of Australian identity – and the result is a future classic.

Critic Reviews

The sense of some deeply melancholic encounter haunts the pages of Australian writer Shaun Prescott’s winningly glum debut novel, aided by elegiac musings on belonging and estrangement, growth and decay, places and voids, portals and dead-ends ... Like much about this simultaneously realist and absurdist novel, that word “disappearing” hovers at the line between the figurative and the literal ... Executed with a mixture of conviction and laconic humour that gives them a fresh appeal ... Painful wit ... An engaging, provoking novel nevertheless, intelligently alive to its own metaphorical possibilities, and leaving behind a powerful vision of the world ending, not with a bang, but a whimper.

The Guardian
Critic Reviews

The Town moves with a gentle command amid the obvious reference points of Calvino, Kafka, and Abe, but it also invokes less-celebrated English-language predecessors, like the novels of Steve Erickson, and Rex Warner’s The Aerodrome. In the manner of Erickson and Warner, Prescott seeks the universal in a meticulous paraphrase of the here and now, and finds the dislocation hiding in locality, to show us just how lost we really may be.

Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude
Critic Reviews

Prescott’s oddly moving debut The Town stretches such themes of escape, flight and identity into new shapes ... Moments of genuine unease ... A mood piece permeated by an asphyxiating ambience ... The Town is perhaps an allegorical mirror reflecting the evils of ignorance and xenophobia that lurk in all humans, everywhere, and the fragility of existence. It’s a gripping but grim depiction.

Benjamin Myers, New Statesman
Critic Reviews

The Town really got under my skin. There's a deceptive lightness to Shaun Prescott's style, and so this is a book that really creeps up on the reader; all of a sudden you're swept away by, even bound to this thing that's so mournful, intense and unsettling. It will stay with me.

Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies
Critic Reviews

A bizarre novel—a séance for Kafka, Walser and Calvino—that tackles the ever-disappearing boundaries between youth and aging, between music and silence, the past and present. In a spry and lonely voice, Prescott has written an ominous work of absurdity.

Catherine Lacey, author of Nobody is Ever Missing
Critic Reviews

Shaun Prescott’s debut novel is a dense singularity, an exploration of the idea of nowhere as the centre of the world, and a stark paean to loneliness, entropy, and marginal existence — sustained by the kind of slow, luminous prose that feels like the equivalent of staring straight into the sun.

David Keenan, author of This is Memorial Device

Shaun Prescott is a writer based in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. He has self-released several small books of fiction, including Erica From Sales and The End of Trolleys, and has been the editor of Crawlspace Magazine. His writing has appeared in The Lifted Brow, The Guardian, and Meanjin, among other places, and The Town is his debut…

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