Monstrous Wounds: Crime, Environmental Catastrophe and Domestic Abuse in Jane Harper’s The Dry

Publication Name

Journal of Australian Studies


Within the long history of Australian crime fiction, Jane Harper’s The Dry marks a significant moment in the emergence of what has been characterised as “outback” or “rural” noir. With its focus on the small regional community of Kiewarra, Harper’s narrative addresses a number of issues that impact rural communities, including climate change, domestic abuse and gambling. Weaving together a story set in the past and a story set in the present, Harper offers a compelling portrait of the moral and social impact of these issues on rural communities in ways that challenge simplistic assumptions about the limitations of genre fiction to engender empathy. While some have argued that only literary fiction can evoke the kind of empathy that enhances our experiences of the world, this article suggests this is not the case and that The Dry is a powerful and moving portrayal speaking to the effects of environmental catastrophe and domestic abuse within a genre that may appeal to a broad and receptive audience.

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