1829, Tasmania. A group of men—convicts, a farmer, two free black traders, and Black Bill, an aboriginal man brought up from childhood as a white man—are led by Jon Batman, a notorious historical figure, on a “roving party.” Their purpose is massacre. With promises of freedom, land grants and money, e...
1829, Tasmania. A group of men—convicts, a farmer, two free black traders, and Black Bill, an aboriginal man brought up from childhood as a white man—are led by Jon Batman, a notorious historical figure, on a “roving party.” Their purpose is massacre. With promises of freedom, land grants and money, each is willing to risk his life for the prize. Passing over many miles of tortured country, the roving party searches for Aborigines, taking few prisoners and killing freely, Batman never abandoning the visceral intensity of his hunt. And all the while, Black Bill pursues his personal quarry, the much-feared warrior, Manalargena. A surprisingly beautiful evocation of horror and brutality, The Roving Party is a meditation on the intricacies of human nature at its most raw.
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“[An] exceedingly powerful debut. Wilson's compelling story carries us through forest and over plains, leaving a trail of dead men.”
—Alan Cheuse, The Chicago Tribune
“[A]n emotionally harrowing, sometimes brutally violent exploration of cruelty and compassion in a desolate land. Wilson’s psychological insights are electric; the chilling ways in which each member of the roving party must grapple with his sense of humanity makes for particularly fascinating reading. Wilson’s novel, which won multiple Australian literary awards on its release, will appeal to readers who appreciate intricate plotting, rich character studies, and poetic depictions of nature.”
“The Roving Party is distinguished by Wilson's tactful and restrained account of a brutal episode in the history of the conflict between European newcomers and the original inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land. His restraint renders the horrors he depicts far more vivid and their ethical implications much more telling than other melodramatic, at times tub-thumping, approaches ... evocative and impressive.”
—Sydney Morning Herald
“An extremely skilful book telling a horror story, and the young writer's maturity takes your breath away ... not for the fainthearted ... Wilson writes in spectacularly beautiful prose.”
“[A] grim and astonishing novel.”
—Australian Book Review
“Australian first-novelist Wilson writes beautifully, equally expert in describing the magical land as he is with Aboriginal dialect.”
“The Roving Party dredges up the mud at the bottom of collective memory, and brings the bloody past to the surface equanimity of the present. It is less a novel than an epic, tragic poem, imagining the doings of Tasmanian pioneer John Batman as he hunts and slaughters Aboriginal Tasmanians in exchange for land and money.”
“Set against the unforgiving, otherworldly terrain of the Tasmanian frontier, where “the full moon rolls like a blinded eye,” THE ROVING PARTY recounts a murderous campaign during “The Black War” of the early 1800s--a period of martial law and genocide between British colonists and the aboriginal peoples they sought to eliminate. Yet, while Rohan Wilson’s stunning debut is based in historical fact, he imbues every page with striking metaphorical symbols, lending the horrendous violence he describes a timeless quality. There is horror, to be sure, but the author’s greatest accomplishment is his stark depiction of humanity in conflict with itself. A nightmarish, desolate beauty of a first novel, THE ROVING PARTY is as poetic as it is brutal. Perfect for fans of BLOOD MERIDIAN and HEART OF DARKNESS.”