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.
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 novel.
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.
Guardian - James Lasdun
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.
Observer - Arifa Akbar
'I'm also drawn to novels of the surreal-yet-just-about-believable species. The Town by Shaun Prescott is absurd, yet almost convincing.'
Irish Times BOOKS OF THE YEAR
'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.'
Irish Times BOOKS OF THE YEAR - Lisa McInerny
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.
Spectator - Benjamin Myers
It's hard to convey how fascinating and readable a book can be when it deals almost entirely with disappointment, boredom and emptiness. But there is quiet wit and charm here even as the novel conveys the opposite, and it's certainly far from boring. It's an extremely thought-provoking novel, and an impressive achievement for Shaun Prescott, whose debut it is.
Shiny New Books - Harriet Devine