Shortlist year: 2008

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: Allen & Unwin

A group of six friends converge on the fabled island of Jamaica to compete in a marathon relay swim across treacherous water. Most have known each other since school, scions of wealth, breeding and privilege and members of the upper echelon of supposedly classless Sydney.

The odd man out is new money Jeremy Hutchison (Hut), who's tolerated by the group because of the fortune he's made, but never really accepted.

It is a group of people on the edge of crisis, none more so than Hut, who is guarding a terrible truth. As the sleazy charms of Jamaica insinuate themselves onto the group, things fall apart in predictable and surprising ways, and the secrets of the past must be addressed.

About the author

Malcolm Knox

Malcolm Knox is the author of two previous novels, Summerland and A Private Man. Formerly literary editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Malcolm broke the Norma Khouri hoax, for which he was awarded a Walkley Award.

He is also the author of Secrets of the Jury Room.

He lives in Sydney.

Judges’ comments

No recent Australian novelist has probed the nation's masculinity more acridly, yet sympathetically, than Malcolm Knox. Nor has any contemporary writer more subtly dissected the role of sport in male self-definition and self-deception.

Jamaica: A novel (Allen & Unwin), 'dedicated to the facts that got out of the way of a good story', explores the desires and expectations of rich men whose excesses find more flagrant and damaging expression when they rampage abroad. Knox is perhaps the foremost analyst of the nihilism that is disturbingly familiar in Australian life.