‘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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In an unnamed, dead-end town in the heart of the outback, a young writer arrives to research small settlements that have vanished into oblivion. He finds the town’s hotel empty of guests, the train station without trains, and the local bus circling its route without picking up any passengers. The townsfolk themselves have collective amnesia and show an aggressive distrust towards outsiders. The town is in decline, but the writer didn’t expect it to be literally disappearing before his eyes: an epidemic of mysterious holes is threatening the town’s very existence, plunging him into an abyss of weirdness from which he may never return.
The sense of some deeply melancholic encounter haunts the pages of Australian writer Shaun Prescott’s winningly glum novel, aided by elegiac musings on belonging and estrangement, growth and decay, places and voids, portals and dead-ends . . . It’s an engaging, provoking novel . . . intelligently alive to its own metaphorical possibilities, and leaving behind a powerful vision of the world ending, not with a bang, but a whimper.
Characters speak with artful banality, while realism is mixed with absurdist elements: a hotel without guests, a train that doesn’t go anywhere, a bus without passengers. In its best moments, it conjures a remote, inward-facing landscape that carries disaffection, loneliness and darker forces beneath.
‘I’m also drawn to novels of the surreal-yet-just-about-believable species. The Town by Shaun Prescott is absurd, yet almost convincing.’
‘Shaun Prescott’s The Town– in which a writer moves to the outback to research the phenomenon of disappearing towns – is mournful, odd and unsettling and therefore right up my street.’
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.
Oddly moving . . . Stretches such themes as escape, flight and identity into new shapes . . . Gripping.
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