The Australian

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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. Recently married to a woman he barely knows and struggling to forge a relationship with his newborn son, the Australian returns to his home city to tend to his dying mother and unlock the mystery surrounding his estranged, deceased father. His journey leads him to the Dreaming Tracks--sacred landmarks across Australia--to 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 way we come to know each other, and ultimately ourselves.

Product Details

$26.95  $24.79
Dzanc Books
Publish Date
May 16, 2017
5.8 X 0.9 X 8.6 inches | 0.9 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Emma Smith-Stevens' writing has appeared in Subtropics, Conjunctions, Day One, Wigleaf, Joyland, and many other publications. She holds an MFA from the University of Florida and has taught fiction workshops, literature, and composition at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL. Originally from New York City, she lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband and their two dogs.


"In her mesmerizing debut, Smith-Stevens reveals the inner life of a man who describes himself as 'the patron saint of trying.'... The author imbues the Australian's constant search for himself with humor and depth while she delves into relationships of all stripes--between parents and children, between spouses, even among polyamorous partners--as well as the vagaries of fame, balancing the main character's self-indulgence with his genuine need to connect with the people in his life. As the Australian returns to his homeland seeking hope, redemption, and happiness, readers are treated to a captivating and memorable journey."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A kind of picaresque novel, one that is charming, affecting, and funny in equal measure...a thoughtful meditation on masculinity, identity, and making a space for yourself in the world."
--Black Warrior Review

"Smith-Stevens' evocation of alienation is often profound and her prose is always beautiful..."
-Kirkus Review

"The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens proves that the picaresque will never die, not as long as there are characters like her titular, never-named fellow...Smith-Stevens keeps the irony coming even in the tenderest moments."
--Lit Hub

"The Australian is an astute, often satirical look at self-actualization and what it means to be a man, partner, father and son. Smith-Stevens writes in a marvelously voyeuristic style.... The nameless man, both hero and no-hoper, is a poignant and pointed reflection of the imperfections that vex us all."
--Shelf Awareness

"A hilarious debut novel about a smiling, suntanned, backpack-wearing Australian (you know the type) and his search for meaning."
--Fiction Advocate

"One of the funniest (and smartest) debuts I have read in years."
--Largehearted Boy

"There are some writers--and Emma 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, author of The Throwback Special

"Emma Smith-Stevens's The Australian is a picaresque for the twenty-first century--beguiling, funny, and inventive, intermittently sad and always beautiful."
--David Leavitt, author of The Two Hotel Francforts

"Emma Smith-Stevens unmans the titular Australian in The Australian with a quiet, wise, sure-footed humor that is seductive."
--Padgett Powell, author of The Interrogative Mood

"The Australian is so deftly written, the exact right mixture of heartfelt and ridiculous, that I cannot count the number of times that a line in the novel absolutely floored me. Emma 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, author of The Family Fang

"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 on his absurd and moving journey through a baffling world, always wondering what could possibly happen next, until the title character ultimately reaches a kind of transcendence. The Australian is an audacious debut novel."
--Michael Kimball, author of Big Ray

"The Australian is a sui generis mutation of the coming of age story which, 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 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, too, does this superb debut."
--Tim Horvath, author of Understories