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A major new voice on the literary scene

‘Sometimes in this business a voice just comes out of nowhere and seizes you by the scruff of your neck. Pay attention! it says. It only took the first 22 pages of this novel – which I read, hand over my mouth in disbelief, awe and a rush of emotion – to make me sit up and take serious notice. Campbell Mattison has been writing this novel for thirty years – and he’s poured everything he’s got into it.  This is an unashamedly big, bold novel, pulsing with life, character, heart and soul – so Australian, so universal, so authentic, so strong – and it marks the arrival of a powerful new voice on the Australian literary scene. I am confident Campbell Mattinson will join the ranks of Tim Winton, Richard Flanagan, Christos Tsiolkas and Trent Dalton.’
—Catherine Milne, HarperCollins Head of Fiction and Fourth Estate Publisher.



About the book

‘We were sons, we were brothers. I didn’t know how to be either.’

This is a story about love. Love for nine-year-old twins Jon and Eden Hardacre is simple. Their mum, the creek that they swim in, each other – this is the love that they trust, love as clear and pure as sunlight, as honey, as water. But then there’s a terrible accident. And in its wake, they develop a desperation – a yearning – to outgrow tragedy. They grow up, compete with each other, fall in love with the same girl, and begin to realise that their lives – and who they love – demands something more. Something deeper. Richer.

Heart-hammeringly original, intense and deeply moving, We Were Not Men is a powerhouse novel about all the various faces that love shows us and how sometimes, distracted by life, ambition or attraction, we take it for granted until it’s too late – or almost too late. An unforgettable novel about the difference between getting older and growing up, from an astonishing new and original voice, pulsing with grief, hope and love. It is a revelation.

Read a sample chapter here.


Campbell Mattinson introduces ‘We Were Not Men’


About the author

Campbell Mattinson started a journalism cadetship in 1987. He’s mostly worked as a writer, editor, photographer and wine critic, though he’s also had stints as a dishwasher in an Indian restaurant, as a data entry clerk at a stockbroker and as a proofreader of phone books. He won the Best Australian Sports Writing Award in 1996 for a story that is the basis of We Were Not Men. His 2006 biography of winemaker Maurice O’Shea, The Wine Hunter, has won numerous awards, as has his website, The Winefront. He describes We Were Not Men as ‘the only story I ever really wanted to write’.

Instagram: @campbellmattinson | Twitter: @CBMattinson


Advance praise

‘A gut-punching, soul-restoring exploration of brotherhood and human bonds that bend but do not break. You’ll dive in at the deep end and you won’t want to stop swimming in Campbell Mattinson’s words.’
—Trent Dalton

‘Mattinson charts the rough terrain of grief with a tender, huge-hearted story of rivalry and love.’
—Mark Brandi

‘Deeply lyrical, gorgeous prose winds you under its spell. An emotional catapult that hits at your heart. For fans of Boy Swallows Universe finally there is a literary achievement that deserves the comparison.’
—Dean, Better Read Than Dead

‘Brace yourself; the opening pages of We Were Not Men are heart wrenching, terrifying and do form the back bone of this Victoria-based visceral story of two orphaned brothers. Campbell Mattinson’s writing will remind you to take time to experience the loneliness, the absolute sweetness and fragility of humanity. This coming of age story will toss you up stream and allow you to float through neighbourhoods, friends, primary school grounds and ambitions. It is a story essentially about redemption; the type of forgiveness, surely, that is received only through a very deep empathy.’
—Chris Gordon, Readings

We Were Not Men is a rare and precious gem.’
—Phil, Dymocks Carindale

‘I finished reading We Were Not Men this morning, and all I can say is WOW. I finished the book in tears, willing it to end the way I wanted. I was so involved in all of the characters, but mostly Jon and Eden. The book started with a punch in the guts, and then weaved itself beautifully until the last page. There is heartache but there is also so much happiness and discovery. It is tender and beautiful, and is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I would compare it to two of my favourite books: Infinite Splendours by Sofie Laguna and Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak.’
—Suzie, Farrell’s Bookshop

‘An extraordinary story of twins Jon and Eden Hardacre. I was gripped from the first page … All the characters are complicated and many layered and they all found their way into my heart. I felt every heartache, every triumph and everything else in between. It’s an intense, moving and brilliant novel.’
—Michelle, Dymocks Chermside


Reading copy giveaway

For your chance to win 1 of 30 exclusive advance reading copies of We Were Not Men, please email HarperCollins and include your full name and postal details.





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Matthia Dempsey

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