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Image. Advertisement: Rain Birds by Harriet McKnight. A powerful and lyrical novel about love, grief and loss.
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About the book | About the author | Author interview | Publisher’s letter | Advance praise | Sample Chapter | Reading copy giveaway


Rain Birds, the stunning debut novel by Harriet McKnight, is coming in September 2017.


Rain Birds

About the book

Alan and Pina have lived contentedly in isolated—and insular—Boney Point for thirty years. Now they are dealing with Alan’s devastating early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As he is cast adrift in the depths of his own mind, Pina is left to face the consequences alone, until the arrival of a flock of black cockatoos seems to tie him, somehow, to the present.

Nearby, conservation biologist Arianna Brandt is involved in a project trying to reintroduce the threatened glossy black cockatoos into the wilds of Murrungowar National Park. Alone in the haunted bush, and with her birds failing to thrive, Arianna’s personal demons start to overwhelm her and risk undoing everything.

At first, when the two women’s paths cross, they appear at loggerheads but—in many ways—they are invested in the same outcome but for different reasons.

Ultimately, unexpected events will force them both to let go of their pasts and focus on the future.

Rain Birds is a powerful and lyrical novel about love, grief and loss, one that examines personal tragedy as set against global and environmental responsibilities, and how we negotiate our often-conflicting ideals.


Harriet McKnight

About the author

Harriet McKnight’s work has been shortlisted for the 2014 Overland VU Short Story Prize, the 2015 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, and the 2016 Overland Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize. She works as Managing Editor of The Canary Press. Rain Birds is her debut novel.


Author interview


Publisher’s letter

Dear book-loving colleague,

One of the greatest joys of being a publisher is discovering a new author and knowing how much pleasure she is going to bring to readers when you share her words—Harriet McKnight is one of those writers for me. As soon as I started reading Rain Birds I knew I was in the presence of a rare talent—and then to find out that the author is only 28 years old; Harriet’s writing is wise beyond her years.

Rain Birds is a profound novel that deals, in part, with the unravelling of a long marriage as a result of one partner’s dementia. At the same time, it follows the journey of a young conservation biologist who is working on reintroducing native birds, but is haunted by her troubled childhood and by what she sees as humanity’s reckless destruction of the natural world. Gradually the two narrative threads entwine until all the characters’ fates are bound together as nature takes control.

This accomplished work of fiction draws insightful parallels between the loss of personal memory and our collective amnesia in regards to environmental devastation and the extinction of species. It is a timely and impressive debut—one that marks the start of what I’m sure will be a long and distinguished writing career for Harriet McKnight.

I hope you love Rain Birds as much as I do.

Best wishes,
Aviva Tuffield


Advance praise

‘With a delicate yet decisive hand, Harriet McKnight deftly weaves the stories of two forthright women searching for moments of stillness in an ever-changing world. Intelligent and absorbing, Rain Birds eschews sentiment in favour of clear-eyed empathy for its characters.’—Melanie Joosten


Sample chapter 

Download a sample chapter from Rain Birds here.


Reading copy giveaway

For your chance to receive one of five advance proofs of Rain Birds, email The first five people to respond will win a copy.




Contact us


Kelsey Oldham

Digital editor
Brad Jefferies

Acting editor, Daily
Matthia Dempsey

Editorial assistant
Anthea Yang

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