About the author

Elizabeth Harrower

About the book

Judges' report

Elizabeth Harrower’s short fiction, gathered for the first time in A Few Days in the Country, is as vibrant today as when it was first published some decades ago. She convincingly depicts a dark and often unacknowledged side of human behaviour: from a glamorous couple who might be termed psychopathic in contemporary times, to petty acts of vindictiveness perpetuated by characters with domestic authority, each story is a glimpse into the way power can work in individual lives. There are also tender tales about the anxieties of friendship and burgeoning adulthood.

This is a superlative collection, written with great clarity and precision and an understanding of the subterranean intensities of human interactions. It gathers together a constellation of stories from a variety of sources, and exhibits the unerring skill of one of Australia’s most significant writers.

Further reading


‘This is the work of an activist in disguise as an entertainer. “How easily she had divested herself of the girl with interests and pleasant ways,” Harrower writes of one character, dispatching decades of her life. And in a later story comes this dagger: “She was shorter, pruned, slightly murdered.”

Time tried to do this to Elizabeth Harrower the writer. It failed, she survived, and these 12 tales are yet another reason why we ought to celebrate this near miss.’ John Freeman, The Australian

‘Despite her unremitting focus on the pain of existence, Harrower affirms, through the act of writing, that there is hope and that she has faith in the human spirit. The collection opens with the arresting image of lightning and a blackout: “And then … the lights … went out.” Its closing sentence reads: “She had learned.” In various ways, these stories chart a path through darkness to arrive, often, at moments of empowering self-awareness.’ Bernadette Brennan, Australian Book Review


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