Janet Deakin, resident of a lonely, depressed town in rural Australia, decides to write a book about her experiences. A drought suffuses the town, and people begin to be driven out, this one by racism, that one by utter poverty. Beverly Dunn's matter-of-fact voice is suffused with a dry wit that conveys the bitterness and desolation of the characters in Drylands, by acclaimed Australian author Thea Astley, perfectly. The tenor of the landscape, the harsh life of the town's inhabitants, and the drama of the slowly emptying community are described in gorgeous literary prose, exposing all the brutality and heart of this small town in this classic work of Australian literature.
In her flat above Drylands' newsagency, Janet Deakin is writing a book for the world's last reader. Little has changed her in 50 years, except for the coming of cable TV. Loneliness is almost a religion, and still everyone knows your business. But the town is being outmanoeuvered by drought and begins to empty, pouring itself out like water into sand. Small minds shrink even smaller in the vastness of the land. One man is forced out by council rates and bigotry; another sells his property, risking the lot to build his dream. And all of them are shadowed by violence of some sort - these people whose only victory over the town is in leaving it.