Hinterland (Steven Lang, UQP)
A small Queensland town is divided. The collapse of local industry in a once-thriving dairy community has seen farmland abandoned, repurposed for suburban sprawl or replanted by conservationists. When a government-backed plan to build a dam in the hinterland starts to gain support (and vehement opposition) from locals, tempers and old resentments start to simmer. Hinterland is Steven Lang’s third novel. It is stunning: a love story to the land and a tense exploration of the divisions arising from political alliances, personal beliefs and inherited ideals. Lang’s descriptions of the landscape are beautiful, evoking a stunning visual backdrop for the small hinterland town. His characters are vivid, revealing a true sense of their past and current allegiances, transgressions and ambitions. Glimpses of the past are cleverly interwoven with present events to create a rich narrative for each of the central players. As the novel reaches its dramatic pinnacle, where eco warriors face off against a misguided home-grown militia, it draws together themes of loss, death, rebirth and hope. Fans of Tim Winton’s Dirt Music and Lang’s previous novels, An Accidental Terrorist and 88 Lines about 44 Women, will find much to enjoy in his latest effort.
Kate Frawley is a bookseller and the manager of the Sun Bookshop