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Black Rock White City

Jovan and Suzana have fled war-torn Sarajevo. They have lost their children, their standing as public intellectuals, and their connection to each other. Now working as cleaners in a suburb of Melbourne, they struggle to rebuild their lives under the painful hardships of immigrant life.

During a hot Melbourne summer Jovan’s janitorial work at a hospital is disrupted by mysterious acts of vandalism. But as the attacks become more violent and racially charged, he feels increasingly targeted, and taunted to interpret their meaning. Under tremendous pressure the couple struggle to keep their marriage together, but fear that they may never find peace from the ravages of war…

Black Rock White City is an essential story of displacement and immediate threat—the new reality of suburban life—and the deeply personal responses of two refugees seeking redemption.

Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award!

A.S. PATRIĆ is a bookseller in Melbourne, Australia. His short story collection Las Vegas for Vegans was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards. His debut novel, Black Rock White City, won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia’s premier literary prize. He was born in Zemun, Serbia, and emigrated to Australia as a child.

“Paints a convincing snapshot of émigré life, rendering its banal humiliations with pointed weariness…. Patrić’s prose is energetic and engaging… its sensitive exploration of the innate human need to put down roots is admirably ambitious and timely.” —The Guardian

“Patrić has certainly accomplished something notable… this marks the emergence of a force to be reckoned with in Australian literature.” LA Review of Books

“Dark and devastating as it might be, Black Rock White City is an unforgettable, poetic celebration of those who choose to carry on no matter what war has wrought upon them, and those who refuse to give up on love regardless of the cost. A.S. Patrić is the definition of a gifted writer.”—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers

“Dark, confronting, but also intensely lyrical. A powerful account of the compulsions and traumas that haunt the suburbs of 21st century living.”—David Malouf, author of Remembering Babylon

“A.S. Patrić, one of Australia’s finest writers, explores the territories of culture, identity, and love with a surgeon’s precision and an artist’s eye.”Krys Lee, author of How I Became a North Korean

“A bold, mature and compassionate novel, and I couldn’t put it down.”—Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap

”A fresh and powerful exploration of the immigrant experience and Australian life, Black Rock White City explores the damages of war, the constraints of choice, the possibility of redemptive love and social isolation amid suburbia.”—Miles Franklin Literary Award citation

“[E]xtraordinarily powerful…. It wouldn’t let me go, scenes and moments crashing into things I was supposed to be doing…. He writes with breevity and with compassion. There are moments of lightness and beauty. His last page arrives with a gasp…. I will carry this book on and on.” The Australian

“Formally rigorous and emotionally powerful, [Patrić’s] new novel can only add to his stature as one of the most fascinating writers in this part of the world…. [I]nhabits the borders between realism and parable; there is nothing here that can be called fantasy as such, and yet the eerie, alienated, sinister mood brings the story close to horror…. What Patrić has taken from his influences, from Kafka among others, he has invested well and made productive.” The Sydney Morning Herald