In Moonland

Miles Allinson

In Moonland
Scribe Publications
31 August 2021

In Moonland

Miles Allinson

Winner of the 2022 Age Book of the Year — Fiction

In present-day Melbourne, a man attempts to piece together the mystery of his father’s apparent suicide, as his young family slowly implodes. At the ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, in 1976, a man searching for salvation must confront his capacity for violence and darkness. And in a not-too-distant future, a woman with a life-altering decision to make travels through a climate-ravaged landscape to visit her estranged father.

In Moonland is a portrait of three generations, each grappling with their own mortality. Spanning the wild idealism of the 70s through to the fragile hope of the future, it is a novel about the struggle for transcendence and the reverberating effects of family bonds. This long-awaited second outing from Miles Allinson, the multi-award-winning author of Fever of Animals, will affirm his reputation as one of Australia’s most interesting contemporary fiction writers, and urge us to see our own political and environmental reality in a new light.


In Moonland is a triangle. Beginning in present-day Melbourne, the deterioration of Joe’s young family catalyses an investigation into his own father’s suicide, leading him through the counterculture of the 1970s from the viewpoint of those it used and discarded. Transported to the past, and into the perspective of Joe’s father, we descend into the heady days of the Bhagwan cult, exposing the essential violence of Free Love. Thrown into the future, from the perspective now of Joe’s daughter, we encounter a father trapped in a failed utopia he always knew was no place at all. Things repeat themselves, but In Moonland wants to stress that they do so with difference and with real consequences.

This is Miles Allinson’s second novel following his 2015 debut Fever of Animals, a metafictional meditation on surrealism and obsession. This new book continues Allinson’s investigation into writing’s at once recuperative and destructive ability to explore what Emil Cioran called, ‘the trouble with being born’. In Moonland stages the collision of what you inherit and what you decide to do with it. In other words, it is a novel that plumbs the vicissitudes of what we call family and what we call love.

And it is epic. In Moonland is a novel that resists a trend in contemporary fiction – especially autofiction – to filter a local environment through the writer’s own ego and declare it profound. Instead Allinson crafts numerous perspectives into a writerly constellation; in the seams that connect them, he traces a historical progression from the insidious political alienation of the hippie movement to the imminent climate collapse which irrevocably marks our posterity.

In Moonland is a striking writing of life, and the lives it leaves behind. It is the work of a novelist more in touch with the potential of the form than I have seen in a long time. For this reason, it achieves something that might be called artistic: it reads as an intervention into our times, not as a symptom of it.

Jeremy George is from Readings Malvern.

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