Books

Sofie Laguna's top 5 Books set in the Australian Outback

'The Choke' author Sofie Laguna takes us on a walk through her top 5 books set in the harsh landscape of the Australian outback, the setting in which her novel's protagonist navigates a harrowing early-adolescence

Sofie Laguna 1351 books top 5

The Shepherd’s Hut

Tim Winton

The vast saltlands of Western Australia are the perfect backdrop for a story about solitude and survival. These unchartered ‘badlands’ harbour criminals and fugitives – territory that demands the impossible of its brave young protagonist. 

My Absolute Darling

Gabriel Tallent

This powerful story is set on California’s remote Mendocino coastline. I was immersed in the gorgeously rich natural world of this novel – the perfect juxtaposition to the sufferings and isolation of its protagonist, a 14-year-old girl terrorised by her psychopathic father. 

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Jasmyn Ward

A novel set in Bois Sauvage (‘Savage Woods’), a mythical Mississippi Delta town haunted by the aftermath of slavery and racism. The location is an apt metaphor for Ward’s examination of the American dream, and the ghosts left in its wake.

The Violent Bear It Away

Flannery O’Connor

Rural, deeply religious Tennessee makes as effective setting for this incredible 1955 story of religious destiny, driven by characters of extremes. It is the isolation of the people in this remote place that allows for such madness. 

Scrublands

Chris Hammer

This new crime novel is set in the Riverina, an agricultural region in South Western New South Wales. It’s part of a trend in Australian crime writing that exploits our unique and challenging outback environment. The drought-ridden town in this novel places its inhabitants under unrelenting pressure; the scorching heat comes off the pages in waves. 

The Choke by Sofie Laguna is out on March 28 (Aardvark Bureau, £14.99)

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