Border Districts


An unnamed man is writing a report ‘for his files’. Like his author, the man is writing in the blurred, liminal space between fiction and non-fiction: ‘I am not writing a work of fiction, but a report of seemingly fictional matters.’ Like his author, the man has moved from the city to a remote border town, the last place he intends to live (Murnane is now based in Goroke, on the edge of Victoria’s Wimmera plains). As the man explains with measured directness: ‘I moved to this district near the border so that I could spend most of my time alone and so that I could live according to several rules that I had for long wanted to live by.’

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A man moves from a capital city to a remote town in the border country, where he intends to spend the last years of his life. It is time, he thinks, to review the spoils of a lifetime of seeing, a lifetime of reading. Which sights, people, books, fictional characters, turns of phrase and lines of verse will survive into the twilight? Feeling an increasing urgency to put his mental landscape in order, the man sets to work cataloguing his memories, little knowing what secrets they will yield and where his ‘report’ will lead.

Border Districts is a jewel of a farewell from one of the greatest living writers of English prose. Winner of the Australian 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Award and shortlisted for the 2018 Miles Franklin Award, this is Murnane’s first work to be published in the UK in thirty years.