The unforgettable new novel from the Dagger award-winning author of Wimmera, Mark Brandi. A novel that shows small-town life is unforgiving if you're from the other side of the tracks.
We always listen out for the train when we're down in the cutting because sometimes they come quicker than you expect. There aren't as many trains as there used to be. Mostly just the freight ones, like the one that nearly killed us on the bus . . . The best train is the Southern Aurora. It goes all the way from Melbourne to Sydney, and from Sydney to Melbourne. It stops in Mittigunda because we're pretty much exactly halfway between.'
Jimmy is a kid growing up fast on the poorest street in town. He tries to do everything right and look out for his mum and his younger brother. His older brother is in jail, so it's up to Jimmy to hold things together. But small-town life is unforgiving if you're from the other side of the tracks.
If only his mum didn't drink so much.
If only he could win the school billycart race.
If only his best friend understood.
If only he could stop his mum's boyfriend from getting angry.
If only he was there.
Jimmy soon learns that even when you get things right, everything can still go wrong.
'If you only read one Australian fiction book this year, let it be this one' Samuel Johnson
'Evocative and authentic, Brandi has created a world filled with equal parts hope and dread. Southern Aurora is a special book' Sarah Bailey
'Another quietly riveting, emotionally potent novel from Mark Brandi' The Age
'The master of small-town dread' Canberra Times
'Heart-wrenching' The Australian Women's Weekly
'Another page-turner' Who Weekly
'Mark Brandi has delivered a protagonist that could well become one of Australia's classic characters. There's a Mark Twain innocence and inner wisdom to Jimmy, one far beyond most adults' Weekend Australian
'Brandi's poignant and deceptively uncomplicated tale pulses with foreboding - but also hope' Courier Mail
'Unforgettable and unsurpassable . . . Brandi's observations are breathtakingly original and his insights are astute. Southern Aurora tackles issues with a purity that's as rare as it is precious' Better Reading
'A beautiful and deeply affecting book . . . Mark Brandi proves himself a master raconteur, in a work characterised by gentle humour, perceptiveness and kindness' Living Arts Canberra
'A powerful and deeply moving portrayal of a sensitive, vulnerable boy battling against the odds for a happy life' Brisbane Times
'Moving and well-crafted' AU Review
Mark Brandi's bestselling novel, Wimmera, won the coveted British Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger, and was named Best Debut at the 2018 Australian Indie Book Awards. It was also shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards Literary Fiction Book of the Year, and the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year.
Mark's second novel, The Rip, was published to critical acclaim in 2019, and his third novel, The Others, was shortlisted for the Best Fiction prize in the 2022 Ned Kelly Awards. His fourth novel, Southern Aurora, will be published in 2023.
Mark's shorter work has appeared in The Guardian, The Age, The Big Issue, and in journals both here and overseas. His writing is also sometimes heard on ABC Radio National.
Mark graduated with a criminal justice degree and worked in the justice system before changing direction and deciding to write. Originally from Italy, he grew up in rural Victoria. He now lives in Melbourne and is working on his next novel.