The Voices

The Voices

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A novel of incantatory beauty set in the wilds of Australia from Susan Elderkin, one of Granta's 'Best of British' writers and the sparklingly original author of 'Sunset Over Chocolate Mountains'. In the remote, blood-red landscape of the Australian bush, thirteen-year-old Billy Saint hears the haunting song of an Aboriginal girl. The song tugs at something deep, something larger and more powerful than himself. She has sung Billy up - and he is destined to love her for ever. In an Alice Springs hospital ten years later, recovering from gruesome wounds of mysterious origin, Billy attempts to explain the voices in his head. But only Cecily, the Aboriginal nurse, will listen. What unravels is a mesmerising account of the relationship between a man, the land he loves, and the spirits of the country, struggling to be heard before it is too late. 'The Voices' is as seductively beautiful as the timeless landscape in which it is set. A lament for a disappearing culture, told with great delicacy and power, it will continue to haunt its readers long after the final page has more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 26mm | 240.41g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperPerennial
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1 map
  • 1841152021
  • 9781841152028
  • 2,250,991

Review quote

'Dazzling...For sheer narrative invention she is without an equal.' Stevie Davies, Independent 'The writing style is energetic and zappy... original, cleverly imagined.' Tamsin Dean, Sunday Telegraph 'Outstanding novel, among the best I have read for years.' Spectator 'What is remarkable is Elderkin's ability to conjure up the Australian outback with such confidence... a book to be admired.' Guardian 'Susan Elderkinos first novel "Sunset Over Chocolate Mountains", won her a devoted following. "The Voices" doesn't disappoint.' Time Outshow more

About Susan Elderkin

Susan Elderkin is the acclaimed author of Sunset over Chocolate Mountains. Born in 1968, she has worked as an ice-cream seller, an English teacher in a Slovakian shoe factory and, for the past five years, as a freelance journalist. She lives in New more

Review Text

Elderkin, whose debut (the award-winning Sunset Over Chocolate Mountains, 2000) painted a lyric picture of the Arizona desert, now delves into the mysteries of the Australian outback. The story concerns a young man who hears voices that derive either from his schizophrenia or from his special relationship with the Aboriginal spirits that inhabit the landscape. At the start, Billy wakes up in a hospital bed, having attacked an American tourist on a train after being found wandering along the tracks. The doctors assigned to his case consider insanity his defense against assault charges. His Aboriginal nurse Cecily, however, lets him know in subtle ways that she believes other forces caused his wandering and the strange mutilation of his privates (if it is mutilation, not primitive improvement to his manhood). Elderkin intercuts Billy's recovery process with his buried memories of a childhood spent with his distant mother and pitiful father in an isolated community being dragged into the modern world by an unscrupulous developer. She also offers the perspective of forces of nature-like the wind-as if they were actual characters that watch over Billy (unless they're merely voices in this head). In particular, there is the Aboriginal girl-or spirit of a girl-Maisie, who draws the young Billy into her world. Shortly after the boy Billy discovers that his mother is having an affair, he takes Maisie for a joyride in one of his father's cars and runs into a kangaroo. Distraught, he leaves the outback, becomes a miner, and finds himself platonically involved with a young mother of three. But the forces of nature, which Billy perceives as voices, follow him and draw him back to the land, where he undergoes a transformation-or nervous breakdown. If this all sounds confusing, it is. Tottering between spiritual gobbledygook and psychobabble, Elderkin nevertheless does create lush exotic worlds, although an unfortunate undercurrent of polemic weakens the mystery of what has happened to Billy. Lots to chew on, but hard to digest. (Kirkus Reviews)show more