Kathryn Heyman’s fifth novel, Floodline, is published by Allen & Unwin.
What remains after everything is washed away?
Funny, moving and utterly compelling, Floodline tells of the unexpected salvation that can be found on the edge of disaster. When the city of Horneville is destroyed by a flood on the eve of a huge gay mardis gras, Mikey Brown – the feisty, sexy and dynamic host of a Christian shopping channel – knows exactly what she needs to do. Taking her sons with her, she sets out on a grand mercy mission. The journey is more than a flood clean-up for Mikey – she wants to save the city and teach the godless inhabitants a lesson. Her husband was lost to her after attempting to ‘mission’ to this same festival and this is her chance to lay the past to rest. Mustard – an enthusiastic, ebullient, 8 year old – doesn’t believe his father is dead. In fact, he is determined to find him and knows that Horneville is the place to start looking. If anyone can bring him back, Mustard can. Down in the city, the floodwater surrounding the Horneville City Hospital is steadily rising, turning what has been a place of refuge into a disaster zone. Deep in the hospital chaos, Nurse Gina Donaldson is forced to make a life and death decision with shattering repercussions. The arrival of Mikey’s little troupe helps Gina find hope in the most unlikely places. Both Mikey and Gina must stare down their pasts in order to find salavation, but will they have the courage?
Book club reading notes (downloadable PDF)
‘Kathryn Heyman’s Floodline begins with a natural disaster, the oldest Western culture has stowed in its myth-kitty and the most urgently contemporary catastrophe a warming world has to share. From these she braids a tale of faith and doubt, parents and children, connection and severance, love and death – all of it played out against the terrifying inundation of a regional Australian city.
‘Heyman’s cool-eyed compassion for her characters draws out their humanity while staring hard at their flaws. The marvel is that the frailty she discovers in her women and men turns out to be the foundation of their greatest strengths. It is a paradox notated in language of poetic force and loveliness. A moving, graceful and fiercely interrogated work.’
– Geordie Williamson, Chief Literary Critic, The Australian
‘Kathryn Heyman’s fifth novel has a parable-like quality reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road…. Indomitably redemptive.’
– The Weekend Australian
Read full review (PDF download)
‘Heyman tackles diverse topics in this ambitious novel, from the limits of disaster relief to family secrets, from the sanctity of life to homophobia. Although her portrait of evangelical Christianity is scathing, it’s also subtle – especially in her superb portraits of the boys’ spiritual worlds.
‘Perhaps most significantly, Floodline is a meditation on faith: Gina has too little while Mikey seems to have too much…Floodline is a startling and confronting – and yet open-hearted – novel.’
– Adelaide Advertiser
‘Floodline is full of dark humour . . . (a) poignant exploration of human behaviour in crisis, of how well we behave in chaos, and the small decisions we make along the way to allow us to live with ourselves.’
– Sydney Morning Herald
‘Kathryn Heyman’s extraordinary fifth novel is a daring look at the nuances of belief. When a place is thrown into chaos faith and hope are examined as salvation is sought… Floodline is quite brilliant in its observation of human behaviour and the way tragedy brings out the best and worst in different people. Heyman balances a book that is preoccupied with tragedy with moments of great humour. It is most definitely an award contender.’
– Sophia Whitfield, Culture Street
‘Guaranteed to keep you hooked.’
– The West Australian
‘I LOVED this novel. A novel where the strong narrative drive tempts you to race ahead, but the quality of the writing invites a slower read, and demands savouring. Heyman’s voice is very much her own, with a physicality and erotic charge in the writing that is highly original; but if there’s a hint of anyone it’s the American author Barbara Kingsolver – important themes, and the lives of the dispossessed brought poignantly to life. Assured, compelling, moving, this is a masterful novel, and a mature novel, by turns funny, tender and powerful.’
– Jill Dawson, author of The Great Lover
‘Unlike almost anything else that’s getting written in Australia at the moment – there’s a sweep and a scale to it that’s exciting, but it’s counterpointed by the satirical.. And there are so many wonderful grace notes and observations ..incredibly affecting.’
– James Bradley, critic and author of The Resurrectionists