Pre-Order (release date May 16, 2017)
In her humorous and emotionally resonant debut, Emma Smith-Stevens follows the exploits and evolution of a young man—known only as the Australian—over the course of a dozen years, from his time in Melbourne, posing as Superman for tourist photos, to his life in New York, where he spends years unemployed before stumbling into fame and fortune.
Married to a woman he barely knows and struggling to forge a relationship with his young son, the Australian returns to his home city to tend to his dying mother and unlock the mysteries surrounding his estranged, deceased father. His journey leads him to the Dreaming Tracks—sacred landmarks across Australia—sites inspired by his father's Australian Outdoor Geographic magazines, and beyond.
A poignant and at times satirical meditation on masculinity, fatherhood, isolation, New York City, fame, and loss, The Australian examines the ways we come to know each other, and ultimately ourselves.
"Smith-Stevens' evocation of alienation is often profound and her prose is always beautiful..."
"There are some writers - and Smith-Stevens happens to be one - who seem effortlessly able to fill the page with life. This chronicle of an extraordinarily ordinary seeker is all wit and wonder, so tolerant of human fallibility, so respectful of mystery and complexity, so disinclined to demarcate the heroic from the foolish. I admire this debut for its style and stance."
-Chris Bachelder, The Throwback Special
"Smith-Stevens writes with such a brilliant sense of language and humor, with such intelligent mystery and disarming intimacy, that the reader is compelled to follow the Australian in his absurd and moving journey through a baffling world, always wondering what could possibly happen next, until the character ultimately reaches a kind of transcendence. The Australian is an audacious debut novel."
-Michael Kimball, Big Ray
"Smith-Stevens' The Australian is a picaresque for the twenty-first century - beguiling, funny, and inventive, intermittently sad and always beautiful."
-David Leavitt, The Two Hotel Francforts
"It is startling to finish The Australian and remember that this is a first novel: it's so wry, clever, swift, and assured that the reader senses immediately that she's in skilled and sympathetic hands. What a seductive voice; what a smart and charming book! And, most of all, what a wonderful new writer we have in Smith-Stevens."
-Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
"Smith-Stevens unmans the titular Australian in The Australian with a quiet, wise, sure-footed humor that is seductive."
-Padgett Powell, The Interrogative Mood
"The Australian is written so deftly, the exact right mixture of heartfelt and ridiculous, that I cannot count the number of times that a line from the novel absolutely floored me. Smith-Stevens lets absurdity do what it does best: to render the complexity of the world in such stark relief that it transforms you. This is a brilliant, beautiful debut—a contemporary Stoner or Speedboat."
-Kevin Wilson, Perfect Little World
"The Australian is a sui generis mutation of the coming of age story that, like its protagonist, defies any easy categorization. Fueled by Smith-Stevens's trenchant eye, rollicking humor, and ceaselessly churning imagination, the book sweeps us along, bearing us into topographies that feel at once recognizable and remote, equipped only with a compass set in defamiliarize mode. The Australian himself comes to feel palpably alive, rendered in sinew and flesh but also achieving a kind of mythic grandeur—as does this superb debut."
-Tim Horvath, Understories