The Roving Party

The Roving Party Cover

The Roving Party

By Rohan Wilson

Soho Press, Hardcover, 9781616953119, 281pp.

Publication Date: February 25, 2014

" An] exceedingly powerful debut. Wilson's compelling story carries us through forest and over plains, leaving a trail of dead men."
Alan Cheuse, The Chicago Tribune

1829, Tasmania. A group of men convicts, a farmer, two free black traders, and Black Bill, an aboriginal man brought up from childhood as a white man are led by Jon Batman, a notorious historical figure, on a roving party. Their purpose is massacre. With promises of freedom, land grants and money, each is willing to risk his life for the prize. Passing over many miles of tortured country, the roving party searches for Aborigines, taking few prisoners and killing freely, Batman never abandoning the visceral intensity of his hunt. And all the while, Black Bill pursues his personal quarry, the much-feared warrior, Manalargena. A surprisingly beautiful evocation of horror and brutality, The Roving Partyis a meditation on the intricacies of human nature at its most raw.

About the Author
Rohan Wilson lived a long, mostly lonely, life until a lucky turn of events led him to take up a teaching position in Japan, where he met his wife. They have a son who loves books, as all children should. They live in Launceston, Tasmania, but don't know why. Rohan holds degrees and diplomas from the universities of Tasmania, Southern Queensland and Melbourne. This is his first book.

Praise For The Roving Party

"[An] exceedingly powerful debut. Wilson's compelling story carries us through forest and over plains, leaving a trail of dead men."
Alan Cheuse, The Chicago Tribune

"Wilson presents an emotionally harrowing, sometimes brutally violent exploration of cruelty and compassion in a desolate land. Wilson’s psychological insights are electric; the chilling ways in which each member of the roving party must grapple with his sense of humanity makes for particularly fascinating reading. Wilson’s novel will appeal to readers who appreciate intricate plotting, rich character studies, and poetic depictions of nature."
—Library Journal 

“A grim and bloody tone poem.... difficult and intriguing.”
—Kirkus Reviews

"Australian first-novelist Wilson writes beautifully, equally expert in describing the magical land as he is with Aboriginal dialect."

"[A] grim and astonishing novel."
Australian Book Review

"An extremely skilful book telling a horror story, and the young writer's maturity takes your breath away ... not for the fainthearted ... Wilson writes in spectacularly beautiful prose."
Courier Mail

"The Roving Party is distinguished by Wilson's tactful and restrained account of a brutal episode in the history of the conflict between European newcomers and the original inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land. His restraint renders the horrors he depicts far more vivid and their ethical implications much more telling than other melodramatic, at times tub-thumping, approaches ... evocative and impressive."
Sydney Morning Herald

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014

Alan Cheuse picks three debut writers to send your mind globe-trotting this summer. More at

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