'A fabulous novel. Inga Simpson brings all her craft and sensitivity to a story that has never been told, and now that she has done it, it feels like this was a story that was needing to be told. With her art, Inga joins the likes of Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy in the vanguard of cricket's exciting new revolution. Long may it last' MALCOLM KNOX
From the critically acclaimed author of Mr Wigg comes an enthralling literary novel about a batmaker and a gifted young cricketer, set around the time the game began changing. For fans of Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding and Joseph O'Neill's Netherland.
Cricket has a willow heart. Batmakers around the world have tried everything, crafting bats from birch, maple, ash, even poplars . . . After two hundred years, cricket bat making is still beholden to a single species: salix alba caerulea - or white willow
Reader Cricket Bats, one of the last traditional batmakers back in the old country, has a contemporary home in the Antipodes, with Allan Reader keeping the family business alive in a small workshop. Allan lives alone, all but estranged from his adult daughter, quietly going about his days with the cricket commentary for company.
When Todd Harrow, a gifted young batter, catches Allan's eye, a spark is lit and Allan decides to make a Reader bat for him, selecting the best piece of willow he's harvested in years to do so.
As Harrow charts a meteoric rise to the highest echelons of the sport, leaving his equally talented sister's dreams in his wake, Allan's magical bat takes centre stage as well, awakening something in Allan and bringing him back into himself. But can Allan's fledgling renaissance - hanging as it does on the magic of that bat - carry on after Harrow is cursed by injury and a strained personal life?
Set as the new short form of the game began to gain prominence, Willowman is a love letter to the art and beauty of cricket and a meditation on the inner lives of certain kinds of men and women, for whom it is a way of life. Award-winning author Inga Simpson writes exquisitely about a national sport you will never view the same way again.
PRAISE FOR WILLOWMAN:
'A wonderful, beautifully written book. A love story to cricket, to families, to craft and to music. Beautifully written. Like an absorbing Test match. Brilliant' Michael Brissenden, author of Dead Letters
PRAISE FOR INGA SIMPSON:
'beautiful and absorbing' Sydney Morning Herald
'a controlled and literate work that earns its emotional peaks' Saturday Paper
'a delight' The Australian
Inga Simpson began her career as a professional writer for government before gaining a PhD in creative writing. In 2011, she took part in the Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program and, as a result, Hachette Australia published her first novel, Mr Wigg, in 2013. Nest, Inga's second novel, was published in 2014 and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Stella Prize and shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. Inga's third novel, the acclaimed Where the Trees Were, was published in 2016.
Inga was awarded the final Eric Rolls Prize for her nature writing and has obtained a second PhD, exploring the history of Australian nature writers. Inga's account of her love of Australian nature and life with trees, Understory, was published in 2017. Her first book for children, The Book of Australian Trees, illustrated by Alicia Rogerson, was published in 2021. The Last Woman in the World, her critically acclaimed environmental thriller, was published in 2021 and shortlisted for the 2022 Fiction Indie Book Award. Inga lives on the NSW south coast among trees.