Shortlisted for the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award
He shouldn’t have a life he never asked for and be expected to love men. With their problems never spoken outward. And childhood trauma and family issues. Men wanting to be held or hold.
Markus Bello’s life has stalled. Living in a small country town, mourning the death of his best friend, Grayson, Markus is isolated and adrift. As time passes, and life continues around him, Markus must try to face his grief, and come to terms with what is left.
Stylistically assured and quietly compelling, Ironbark is an elliptical and beautifully evoked contemporary coming-of-age story. Through his protagonist, Markus, newcomer Jay Carmichael depicts the conflict and confusion of life as a gay man in rural Australia, and explores how place can shape personal identity by both offering and restricting potential. A moving portrait of grief and loss, Ironbark is also a devastating account of the toll exacted by our society’s expectations of what it means to be a man.
‘Jay Carmichael approaches the world as a poet, from an angle that is all his own. He reveals a hidden, pulsing reality beneath the surface of the everyday.’
Miles Allinson, author of Fever of Animals
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‘In sparse and quiet prose, Jay Carmichael's debut is an enveloping novel about grief, survival, and the futility of finding peace in a place you don't belong.’
Shaun Prescott, author of The Town
‘[An] accomplished debut … Carmichael has a poetic turn of phrase, and he plays with time, moving the story back and forth … keeping readers on their toes.’