The Drover's Wives


The Drover's Wives


Ryan O'Neill

The new book from the winner of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction

Henry Lawson’s short story ‘The Drover’s Wife’ is an Australian classic that has sparked interpretations on the page, on canvas and on the stage. But it has never been so thoroughly, or hilariously, reimagined as by Ryan O’Neill, remixing and revising Lawson’s masterpiece in 99 different ways.

You’ll be amused, delighted and surprised by a Year 8 essay, a sporting commentary, a pop song, a Hollywood movie adaptation and many more.

Inventive and unexpected, this is laugh-out-loud literature from one of Australia’s finest satirists.

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Physical book

Harper Entertainment Distribution Services

Format: Paperback

Pub date: Jul 2018

Imprint: Brio

ISBN: 9781925589290

Page extent: 256 pp

Trim: 210 x 135 mm

RRP: AUD$26.99, NZD$29.99

Praise for Ryan O’Neill

‘In his supercalifragilisticexpialidocious new book Ryan O’Neill does something stunningly original using Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife – turning it into a bravura literary game. I have never read a work like this before. It is a perfect reference book and teaching aid for teachers and students of English by illustrating the rich variety of ways we play with and use the language. A cerebrally imaginative tour de force.’ —Frank Moorhouse

‘Ryan O’Neill brilliantly subverts, critiques and enriches Australian literature all at once. His playful celebration of a classic story in The Drover’s Wives is also a work of scholarship that should have a place in every writing course. Susan Wyndham, author and former Literary Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald

‘[The Drover’s Wives] exudes brio on every page, all enthusiastic vigour, often in high-parodic mode, sometimes as an in-joke for scholars of AustLit, occasionally with a tempering sadness but always with freshness and the capacity to surprise. This is an example of a fine satirist stretching his muscles ... captivating, coruscating, brilliantly honed ... O’Neill brings something new and thoroughly engaging into the Australian literary scene, and makes the air and ear shimmer with his lyrebird capacity to reproduce the voices and genres and forms in which we humans tell our stories. Read it slowly, bit by bit, because satire gobbled too fast can overwhelm the reader or dull the senses. But read it, and odds are you will, by turns, laugh and weep.’ Jen Webb, Australian Book Review

‘[Ryan O’Neill] offers a book that is a piss-take, a celebration, a revisionist history and, perhaps most impressively, exceedingly good fun.’ —The Australian

‘Vital storytelling and literary flourishes distinguish O’Neill’s creative story collection. What brings all of the tonal diversity together is O’Neill’s obvious understanding of the cohesiveness of language, its power to transcend and overcome, and the way an economy of precious words in a short story can achieve a novel’s worth of emotion.’ —Publishers Weekly

‘Stories full of wit, irony, wild invention, love and pain – and sometimes shocking power.’ —Paddy O’Reilly

‘By turns acerbic, playful and serious, O’Neill is equally at home with satire and pathos.’ —Cate Kennedy

‘With each new story O’Neill redefines the boundaries of what is possible.’ —Patrick Cullen