Document Type


Publication Details

Cosgrove, S. E. What the Ground Can''t Hold. 1 ed. Sydney: Picador, 2013.



Research Background

What the Ground Can’t Hold is a literary novel that addresses themes of the post-war, reconciliation, apology, and survival. It follows five points-of-view, spanning four nationalities. This use of multiple perspectives situates the novel among Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap and Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Sing, asking the research question: how can fiction illuminate the complexity of human subjectivity(ies)?

Research Contribution

What the Ground Can’t Hold uses five points-of-view to destabilise the notion of the hegemonic narrative. Instead of continuing the narrative with each new point-of-view (as in the novels cited above), Cosgrove’s novel re-tells the whole story with each point-of-view, placing emphasise on the differing subjectivities (via detail and plot). This practice-led creative approach draws on Judith Butler’s notion of the subversive repetition (Gender Trouble 1990) while acknowledging the subversive repetition is never fully finalised.

Research Significance

What the Ground Can’t Hold (2013) is published by Picador, Pan Macmillan, receiving national radio coverage. Author interviews featured on ABC 702 (Sydney), ABC Western Queensland, 2GLF, 2EL and 2SM. It also received positive coverage in The Sun Herald, the Tasmanian Times, the Newtown Review of Books and the Illawarra Mercury. It was rated as a ‘Best Read by Emerging Writers’ as part of the 2013 Emerging Writers’ Festival. It has also received 4.38 stars on Goodreads. The author has given lectures on the book internationally in Portland, USA, Wellington, NZ and Guangzou, China, and appeared on panels at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2014.



Two Americans are presumed dead and nine people are trapped in a cabin after an avalanche in the remote Andes... Among them in Emma, an Australian faced with an impossible decision that could see her parents jailed. Jack, a teenager obsessed with Jack Kerouac, guided by a skewed moral compass. Carmen, a tango dancer whose estranged father is dying of cancer. Pedro, the cabin manager who's in hiding from those he loves most. And Wolfe, an American on a deadly family quest. With food supplies dwindling, these unlikely companions are forced to extremes and discover they are bound by more than their surroundings – each has a secret that links them to Argentina's Dirty War.What the Ground Can't Hold is a gripping exploration of the ways the past closes in on the present, and destroys the foundations upon which we build our lives.