Banjawarn by Josh Kemp cover


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Josh Kemp

Winner of the 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript

Winner of the 2022 Ned kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction

Winner of the 2023 WA Premier's Prize for an Emerging Writer

Garreth Hoyle is a true crime writer whose destructive love affair with hallucinogenic drugs has sent him searching for ghosts in the unforgiving mallee desert of Western Australia. Heading north through Kalgoorlie, he attempts to score off old friends from his shearing days on Banjawarn Station. His journey takes an unexpected detour when he discovers an abandoned ten-year-old girl and decides to return her to her estranged father in Leonora, instead of alerting authorities. Together they begin the road trip from hell through the scorched heart of the state’s northern goldfields.



Love, friendship and hope are often found in the strangest places, but forgiveness is never simple, and the past lies buried just beneath the blood red topsoil. The only question is whether Hoyle should uncover it, or run as fast as his legs can take him.

Banjawarn is an unsettling debut from Josh Kemp. Echoing Cormac McCarthy’s haunting border trilogy and narrative vernacular that recalls the sparse lyricism of Randolph Stow and Tim Winton, this is a darkly funny novel that earns its place amongst the stable of Australian gothic literature.


The conflation of violence and justice here is very like a western, as the boundaries between good and evil shimmer and dissolve.

Kemp writes with a compelling voice, the kind you want to follow into dark places, no matter how gruesome things get. 

- Jennifer Mills, Australian Book Review

Kemp’s Banjawarn is a lucid dream steeped in unsparing and poetic Australian gothic prose, mapping a “road trip from hell” that goes the long way up to the light.

- WritingWA

An impressive, propulsive debut laced with dark humour and a menacing undercurrent of violence that builds towards a brutal, vividly rendered conclusion.

- Gemma Nisbet, The West Australian


Click here to read an extract


Book details

PUBLICATION DATE: February 7, 2022
GENRE: Fiction, gothic/thriller
FORMAT: Paperback
EXTENT: 451 pages
SIZE: C format paperback, 234 x 156 mm
ISBN: 978-1-76080-214-1