A bold and provocative novelist shines an ugly light on the misogyny and sexual violence that stains a nation's history.
Welcome to Terror Australis, a landscape littered with the victims of violent men who have preyed on women since the First Fleet arrived with a cargo of ragged women ... and a place where evil Islamic terrorism lurks.
Award-winning novelist Wayne Grogan weaves a contemporary tale of misogyny bred from colonial Australia's appalling treatment of women. Fact and fiction, characters imagined and real (like notorious serial killer Ivan Milat) blend seamlessly in a world where women exist to be hunted and abused.
The novel is written in the first person, from the observations and experience of a fictitious reformed rapist who is an ex-drug addict-turned-antiquarian book dealer.
Terror Australis, framed as a noir detective story, also contains a chilling terrorist plot: a soft Australian suburb marked out for destruction by radical Islamists in thrall to the belief that they are performing the will of Allah. The novel explores the divide between Islam and Christianity, the reasons why Islam is seen as a religion hijacked by extremists, and examines the fault lines between Christianity and Islamic fundamentalism.
And for good measiure, Terror Australis takes a predatory excursion into the world of online dating.
This is a confronting, provocative novel with a wide sweep. It pulls no punches. And while the personality of the central character (Rory) might repel, his story is ultimately that of a tormented soul desperate for forgiveness and redemption from a life he can no longer bear.
BOOK LAUNCH: HIGH PRAISE
Professor Catharine Lumby, a respected commentator on women's issues, has praised Terror Australis for its distinctively original male perspective on such a serious topic as violence against women.
Professor Lumby, Director of the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, launched Terror Australis in Sydney in August.
"What's truly extraordinary about this novel is Wayne's ability to marry stainless literary prose with an unerring and raw portrait of the communal underbelly," Professor Lumby said.
"Underbelly is a word we've come to associate with TV dramas about gangster and bikie wars, dramas that glamourise that underworld to titillate us with a glimpse into the social sewers.
"Wayne, in contrast, is chillingly clear-sighted about the hellish contours that map the world of drugs, violence and forced sex.
"He knows that rape is no bedfellow with everyday sexual desire. Its true consorts are power and anger. It is a territory that very few male writers have had the guts to explore with such honesty.
"Wayne does it so convincingly and so confrontingly that there were times reading his novel where I actually had to put it down and just learn how to breathe again.
"One of the great strengths of this book also is the author's ability to weave a grainy and socially realistic detective story. It's an extraordinary book, and one that I hope will set him up for yet another literary award."
Terror Australis is Wayne Grogan’s fourth novel. His first, Junkie Pilgrim, won a Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction. He subsequently wrote Vale Byron Bay, a “paradise lost” lament to a hippy nirvana, and Heavy Allies, which digs into the entrails of the failed Nugan Hand Bank, a money-laundering and drug-trafficking front for the CIA in the 1970s.
Grogan’s work has been praised by novelists such as Robert Drewe, Gabrielle Carey and Gerard Windsor, and reviewers like Clare Calvet on Tony Delroy’s ABC Radio program, Nightline.