The Landscape of Desire: A Novel 

Several months have passed since the explorers Burke and Wills disappeared into the desert, and their whereabouts remain a mystery. 

Now a search party has assembled to rescue them. Meanwhile, two other men are wandering lost in the outback: one on the verge of reaching safety; the other, broken and trapped at the heart of the continent with an Aboriginal tribe as his only hope of survival. And back in the city an actress, star of the stage in Melbourne and Sydney, longs for the return of Burke and Wills for personal reasons that will only gradually become apparent.

This is a stunning debut novel of love and identity, desire and death, set in rapidly changing yet still unknown Australia.

"This beautifully considered novel takes an old Australian story and holds it up to the light. ... Rabalais gives real animation to these famous Australians in language that is both poetic and precise." Judges, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD Best Young Australian Novelists Awards

"It will reward anyone who enjoys the use of fact as a basis for well-wrought, poetic fiction. … elegant language, plot-driven action, contemplation and thematic seriousness..." MAX OLIVER, AUSTRALIAN BOOKSELLER & PUBLISHER

"It is a stunning debut and an impressive attempt to give our colonial history some mythic resonance. In two words: Nearly brilliant." MALCOLM TATTERSALL, TOWNSVILLE BULLETIN

"The Landscape of Desire is an impressive first novel ... For all its poetry this is a page turner and it resonated with me. The writing mesmerizes and I recommend the book for this alone." SUSIE WARRICK, BYRON SHIRE ECHO

"This is a beautifully told story, intensely evocative, with long-buried secrets gradually, tantalizingly revealed." MARY ANN ELLIOTT, TOOWOOMBA CHRONICLE

"This superbly written reimagining of the Burke and Wills story ponders love, death, secrets and more. In a word: Profound." WEEKEND GOLD COAST BULLETIN

"What Rabalais's imagination offers us in The Landscape of Desire is a novel of aching beauty and ultimately unanswerable mystery. His writing has a soft, heat-haze quality to it perfectly suited to the material, and he has a sharp eye for the ideal word or image. ... All told, The Landscape of Desire is an assured and forceful novel, an exquisite book that, once you've begun reading it, you'll find it very hard to drag yourself away from." DIANE STUBBINGS, CANBERRA TIMES

"The imagery and ambience of Kevin Rabalais's The Landscape of Desire still lingers in my consciousness, almost a year after first reading it." Pick of the crop for 2008, CANBERRA TIMES

"His ambition will be rewarded, for there is much to like in The Landscape of Desire. It's a lacery of no little beauty, with frequent passages of sublime artisanship." MURRAY WALDREN, THE LISTENER

"This is a brilliant, ambitious novel by a fine new writer." RUSS RADCLIFFE, THE BIG ISSUE

"The Landscape of Desire deeply impressed me. The elegant lyricism of his prose about a harsh land and the grisly end to the Burke and Wills expedition is finely judged." ROBERT DESSAIX, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD


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“Kevin Rabalais is a very fine new writer. Reading his work put me in mind of a young Michael Ondaatje — daring, musical, intelligent and out on the edge.”