Ireland, early 1800s. The Napoleonic Wars have ended, leaving an already disjointed country in peril. Maurice O'Dwyer, a young Irishman, considers the lifeless body of an English tithe-collector slain under a rain-filled sky. From that moment it seems his fate is sealed: he and his young simpleton brother, Padraig, are exiled to Australia, An Astráil, to the convict-filled island of Van Diemen's Land - leaving behind his love, his land, and his liberty. However, in the bush Maurice discovers that there are allies in the most unlikely of places.
What the critics said
"With the passion of an activist and the ear of a poet, John Tully constructs his novel out of the differing perspectives of the colonial project, weaving Irish lives and English lives, black experiences and white experiences into a dense tapestry of oppression and the many little resistances it fostered. This is an account of settlement in all its complexity, a multilayered book written with a deep sympathy for ordinary people coping with the collision of very different worlds. It's a text built from parallels, echoes and resonances, a much-needed excavation of a past that still haunts us." - Jeff Sparrow, co-author of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History