About the author

Fiona Kelly McGregor

About the book

Judges' report

Set in Depression-era slums in Sydney, this work of historical fiction explores class, marginalisation, and Queer identity at a time when social mores were oppressive and violence was rife. The narrative imagines the life of the real (albeit obscure) Iris Webber and her contemporaries. McGregor does not shy away from depicting brutality, but ensures sex work and crimes of poverty are explored with nuance and depicted sensitively.

The evocation of voice and character development is exceptional. Capturing vernacular dialect on the page is notoriously difficult, and McGregor’s Iris is a bold example of literary craft that demonstrates a profound historical understanding of place and time. The experience of Iris – a woman defiant in the face of injustice, and fierce, despite hardship – in a time of economic pain, social uncertainty, and looming war, remains starkly relevant today.

Further reading


“A brawling, picaresque book by one of our foremost cartographers of settler Sydney.” – Declan Fry, The Sydney Morning Herald

Iris is an in-depth character study, as well as a vivid and panoramic recreation of a place and time.” – Susan Sheridan, The Conversation

“An exhilarating squeezebox of a novel.” – Felicity Plunkett, The Australian Book Review


Read an interview with Fiona Kelly McGregor on Words Without Borders


Share via: