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Reviews of North of Nowhere, South of Loss

'Best Books of the Year' Listings

Toronto Globe & Mail
The Age, Melbourne Australia


The Australian rainforest and the humid American South are the suffocating backdrop to these 14 brooding, densely lyrical stories. The stories unfold like poems, compact and mysterious, with clues buried within.

— Publishers Weekly


*** Hospital, an Australian now living in South Carolina, uses both continents as settings in this progression of 14 dreamy yet tightly constructed stories about chance, attachment and disappearance. Stylistically demanding, but unforgettable. This woman can write.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


This collection is as rich and tangled as the Brisbane jungle of which the author writes. These stories hypnotize with their skillful weaving of opposites – despair and hope, weakness and strength, emptiness and fulfillment – and set a new standard for the short story genre that will be hard to surpass.

Library Journal


Though Hospital's stories are set in such very different locales as Australia and France and South Carolina, she gets the sounds and smells right, the grass, trees, building, animals, all of it. Maybe best of all, she gets the language right. People talk like where they're from. Hospital has a particularly subtle ear. Picking up the distinctions of social background and race in the various cadences and vocabularies of Southerners, for instance, can be daunting for anyone not born and raised in the region.... To a Southerner, a Texan doesn't sound the same as a South Carolinian. Even within South Carolina, people who live along the coast sound different from people from the other end of the state, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. ...Hospital does an admirable job of replicating those language distinctions.

The people in Hospital's stories seem to have complicated, fully formed existences... Often, they are living in places they weren't born to; they're out of their native culture or langue, cut off from the familiar and comfortable. On this uncertain ground... they grapple with the enigmas of life, relationships, memory, desire, even natural disaster.

San Diego Union-Tribune


If anything is capable of restoring your faith in the power of short fiction, this is it. Janette Turner Hospital's collection of short stories is a tour de force... and there's no question this book marks Turner Hospital as one of the genre's finest exponents.... It isn't the diversity of the stories or their inventiveness that lingers in the mind so much as their sheer artistry and poise.... Hospital's fiction reads like a quest for the perfectly cadenced sentence.

The Age, Melbourne


Janette Turner Hospital's collection of short stories is a labyrinth of mind and memory... Hospital presents us with a savage universe, tales made macabre as everyday life turns menacing and devours its characters.... Yet in the midst of this savagery, Hospital treats her characters with a luminous tenderness.... The childhood friends of the opening story, Brian and Philippa, surface three more times. As Brian's mind disintegrates, Philippa attempts to curate his life and compute "the odds against solving the structure of memory which dissolves and devolves and solves nothing." Hospital's magic lantern dissection of the worlds, whether savage or tender, is unflinchingly elegant. She takes us to the four corners but inevitably we return to the "rampant luxuriant mess" of those tropical Queensland gardens, "always galloping back into rainforest." Ultimately, it is this return to the fecund world of possibility that creates whatever illusion of security she permits her characters.

Toronto Globe & Mail (lead fiction review in weekend Book Review supplement)