'A strange and joyous marvel.' Richard Flanagan
A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte—who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire.
The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle.
Flames sings out with joy and sadness. Utterly original in conception, spellbinding in its descriptions of nature and its celebration of the power of language, it announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction.
Robbie Arnott was born in Launceston in 1989. His writing has appeared in Island, the Lifted Brow, Kill Your Darlings and the 2017 anthology Seven Stories. He won the 2015 Tasmanian Young Writers' Fellowship and the 2014 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers. Robbie lives in Hobart and is an advertising copywriter.
'[A]n engrossing narrative of mystery and escape that treats the reader to bravura runs of writing, especially around the elements of water and fire ... you never quite know which direction the story will take off in as it creates a new kind of fairytale for our fire-prone landscape' Judges' report, Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist 2019
'Arnott skilfully switches between different voices and genres in a trick reminiscent of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. The range he displays is impressive, swinging from fable to gothic horror to hardboiled detective story.' Books+Publishing
'Flames is an exuberantly creative and confident debut. This is a story that sparks with invention...Invigorating, strange and occasionally brutal.' Australian Book Review
'Poignant and beautifully written...Richly detailed...A stunning homage to Tasmania...A deep and powerful reflection on what it is to be human and how we navigate the ravages of loss. I haven't read a more unique debut Australian work in a very long time and was mesmerised by the story.' Bathurst City Life
'A surprising story with a definite feminist edge...the novel's playfulness and poetry make for a fresh and entertaining read.' Saturday Paper
'It will be immediately apparent to anyone even vaguely familiar with Tasmania that Arnott is on intimate terms with his island, and his exquisite descriptive prose definitely does this gem of a place justice...More please, Mr Arnott.' BookMooch
'A gloriously audacious book. It runs astonishing risks and takes on the biggest emotions...It bowled me sideways.' New Zealand Herald
'Unique and memorable...Extraordinary energy...A rich and memorable picture with prose of an exceptionally high quality. You won't read another Australian literary novel like this anytime soon.' Kill Your Darlings
'An extremely evocative and imaginative work...Undeniably powerful...it is refreshing to see the Australian landscape written about so vividly.' Good Reading
'Arnott confidently borrows from the genres of crime fiction, thriller, romance, comedy, eco-literature, and magical realism, throws them in the air, and lets the pieces land to form a flaming new world.' Sydney Morning Herald
'This is a startlingly good first novel, stylistically adventurous, gorgeous in its descriptions and with a compelling narrative that should find a wide...