Red Dirt

E.M. Reapy / Fiction

Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award winner 2016

Book cover

UK Publisher

Head of Zeus

Date Published

June 2nd, 2016

Dramatic Rights

William Barton


Three young Irish people have come to Australia, running from the economic ruins of their home country and their own unhappy lives. In this promised land, stunned by the heat and the vast arid space of the interior, they each try to escape their past in a chaotic world of backpacker hostels, huge fruit farms and squalid factories, surrounded by new friends who are even more damaged and dangerous than they are themselves. Endless supplies of cheap drink and drugs loosen what little sense of responsibility they have, and a spiral of self-destructive behaviour forces each of them to face up to the reality of their lives.

This is a story of the consequences of impulsive choices and of the places where they lead. A vulnerable young man is left alone by his friends in a remote wilderness; a desperate girl puts herself into the hands of violent sex traffickers; a once-privileged favourite son lets a drunken quarrel escalate to murder. An utterly compelling, readable novel that hooks from the first page and immerses us in an all-too topical nightmare.


A remarkably accomplished and vivid debut novel

- Joseph O'Connor

An Irish stormer

- Sebastian Barry

An utterly compelling, readable novel that hooks from the first page and immerses us in an all-too topical nightmare

- Irish Interest

Reapy has a dazzling ear for dialogue ... This book does for young Irish expats in Australia what Alex Garland's The Beach did for backpackers in Thailand and Dermot Healy's Sudden Times did for a different generation of Irish labourers in London. It's a confident and distinctive debut, and one would have to be dead to the thrill of fiction not to be hugely excited about what its author will do next

- Irish Independent

As accomplished a debut as you'll find

- Sunday Independent

With forceful dialogue and pages of drama, Red Dirt is a compelling read perfect for the long hot summer days

- Butterfly Books


Astoundingly accomplished ... thought-provoking and addictive

- Irish Examiner

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