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Spinifex & Sunflowers

Written by Avan Judd Stallard


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Nick Harris has been drifting for years – until the day he finds himself amid red dirt and razor wire, a refugee-prison guard in a detention centre. Nick is no crusader and no bleeding-heart. He’s just a man in debt who needs a job.

Time passes slowly behind the wire, no matter who you are. To distract themselves, the asylum seekers tell Nick about their lives and cultures, and the families they have left behind. They steal from him with good humour, and swear at him with bad.

Nick breaks all the rules: slacking off when he guards the cordial machine, swimming with crocodiles, brawling with locals, romancing workmates. And then there is the cardinal sin –  becoming friends with the detainees.

'Well written, confronting, passionate and often graphic, this novel deserves to be read by any Australian with a conscience. [Four stars]' Books+Publishing

'[Stallard's] on-theground experience brings authenticity and sympathy to the plight of refugees in his storytelling.' West Weekend Magazine

'Stallard’s style is page-turning, and his firsthand knowledge of Curtin fascinating, making for some of the most compelling reading I’ve experienced so far this year.' Adelaide Advertiser


Colin Roderick Award (Longlisted 2019)

ISBN 9781925164992 (Paperback)
Formats B+ Format (205 x 138mm) (Paperback)
Categories ebooks
Book Club Reads
Publisher Fremantle Press
Edition 1st
Publication Year 2018
Pages 340
  • Stallard web

    Avan Judd Stallard

    Avan Judd Stallard was born and raised in the south-west of Western Australia. He holds a PhD at the University of Queensland, where he taught Australian history and won the Dean’s Award for Excellence. Avan is the author of the history book Antipodes: In Search of the Southern Continent. He currently lives with his wife in the north of Spain. Read more