Grey’s mother dies giving birth to his sister, Irene, and he prays that she will be returned to him so he might protect her from the world as his father did not. This prayer, Grey believes, is answered in his sister. He becomes obsessed with protecting her purity and innocence while befriending the wild boys of the small town of Mary Smokes—horse-handlers and fox hunters and part-time timber workers—members of a small, vanishing tribe who find themselves caught between an old relationship with place and a new one that is exemplified by the highway that threatens their town.
Americans are about to discover Patrick Holland, a young writer with exceptional talent and recognition at the beginning of what is sure to be a lustrous career given his numerous awards and literary recognition for previous works. Holland’s kinship with Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses is palpable. The Mary Smokes Boys is heartrending and unforgettable, a suspenseful story of horse thieves and broken promises, of love and tragedy, of the fragility and grace of small town life and how one fateful moment can forever alter the course of our lives.
Longlisted for the 2011 Miles Franklin Award
Shortlisted for 2011 The Age Book of the Year
A 2011 Australian Book Review Book of the Year
A 2011 Adelaide Advertiser Book of the Year
A 2011 Readings Book of the Year
There are seven stories I read at least once a year, for pleasure and in the same very rational spirit that infertile males of certain old (and new) world tribes have eaten rhinoceros horns and tiger penises, hoping that imbibing a thing of a...Forward
Critically acclaimed Australian Patrick Holland visits the U.S. for the first time to promote his novel, The Mary Smokes Boys. Mr. Holland joins Dwyer to discuss life in rural Australia, the vibrance of the people in Vietnam, being homeless in...Forward
PORTLAND’S Hawthorne Books has been quietly exercising great taste for years now, publishing authors like Monica Drake, Tom Spanbauer, and Poe Ballantine. In addition to their oversized format and distinctive French flaps, Hawthorne’s books are...Forward
Julia MuchaHave you always been a writer or is this something that came later?
Patrick HollandYou get to the point where you’re doing so much of it you have to call yourself a writer. I played football through my teenage years and never wrote a...Forward
Patrick Holland’s beautiful, beautiful novel is a tale that transports you through its realisation of place and its genuinely affecting story of love (for brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers). And yes, for a language as pure and magical as I have read in a long time … A major work.
- Martin Shaw, Readings Newsletter
One of those books, one of those straight-to-the-heart, life-changing books.
- Krissy Kneen
- Author of Affection
Barely a scene or image is wasted ... He weaves Hemingway’s blunt sentences and carved dialogue with the old fashioned storytelling of a folk tale imbued with the dark romance of a Nick Cave ballad.
- Jo Case
- Author of The Age
The Mary Smokes Boys is a gem. The writing is absolutely terrific and the characters distinct and deftly revealed. This story is a heart wrecker.
- Barry Lopez
- Winner of the National Book Award for Arctic Dreams
Holland has created an affecting…norish yarn of life Down Under.
- Publishers Weekly
The final portion of the novel… is riveting. A fine piece of work from a writer with real potential.
- Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
The Mary Smokes Boys demands patience, but it rewards it, too—even as the promise of an indifferent world slowly takes its toll on Irene and Grey.
- Alison Hallett, The Portland Mercury
With a spare, stark style that unavoidably recalls Ernest Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy…Each carefully chosen word in Holland’s novel evokes a sense of loss, absence, and lack.
- Sheila M. Trask, ForeWord Reviews