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Written by Roberta Lowing

  • 504 Pages
  • 9781770890404
  • FICTION / Espionage
  • FICTION / Historical
  • FICTION / Literary



Publication Date July 16, 2011

She came walking out of the desert, just as the famous poet Rimbaud had centuries before. Now the nameless woman lies horribly scarred and close to death in an asylum deep in the North African desert. An Australian official, a man code-named John Devlin, has come to question her. It is clear that the woman and Devlin share some kind of past, and all kinds of secrets.

As the wind calls up a deadly sandstorm, the inhabitants of the asylum discover they are linked by a diary written by Rimbaud. Over the next 120 years, everyone who sees the diary will want it. Most will do anything to possess it. For the ruthless Polish aristocrat Aleksander Walenska, the diary holds secrets that will bring him wealth and power; for his troubled and religious son Czeslaw, it is a book of death, a penance to be fulfilled by sacrifice; for Czeslaw’s sister, it is a book of the desert that will redeem her family’s name; for Devlin, the diary is worthless and the desert is not a place of revelation but of modern terrorism.

Only the nameless woman, whose dark past is entwined with those who would possess Rimbaud’s diary at any cost, knows the true worth of the book . . .

Short-listed for the Primer Minister's Literary Award: Fiction 2011


Roberta Lowing
Roberta Lowing is a poet, author, and film critic. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Meanjin, Blue Dog, and Overland, and her first collection, Ruin, was published in 2010. She lives in Sydney, Australia.


"This ambitious debut novel is a literary amalgam of themes, genres, and subjects that will captivate many readers . . . a remarkably good debut." Winnipeg Free Press

". . . an intricate, thoughtful book . . . it has a sensuous beauty, and a bracing power in the construction of its sentences and the complexity of its structure." Montreal Gazette

"Much of the writing is beautiful. Sublime. And carefully executed. A worthy debut . . . one looks forward to seeing what this author will dream up next." January Magazine