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Red Dirt

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  373 ratings  ·  63 reviews
A gripping tale of loss and hope, of self-destruction and self-acceptance, from an exciting new debut author.

Three young Irish people have come to Australia, running from the economic ruins of their home country and their own unhappy lives. In this promised land, stunned by the heat and the vast arid space of the interior, they each try to escape their past in a chaotic wo
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published June 2nd 2016 by Head of Zeus
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  373 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Red Dirt is a novel about three young Irish migrants, Murph, Fiona and Hopper, who have moved to Australia in the hope of finding a better life. They live in youth hostels and spend their days looking for work in factories and on farms. All three make mistakes throughout their journey, come across one another and are eventually brought together with tough decisions to make.
I enjoyed this book because of the interesting characters and also because how Reapy structured it into three sections: the
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A smart, confident dissection of the Irish Recession from an angle which has remained largely unexplored, Red Dirt tells the story of three Irish youngsters who have been forced to emigrate as a result of financial upheaval.
Set among backpackers in the Australian outback, it would be tempting to think of this as being like Alex Garland's 'The Beach'. However, the three distinct voices made me think of Donal Ryan, the ear for dialogue of fellow Mayo-nian Colin Barrett, and the talent for suspense
Miriam Smith
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: kept-book, twitter
Red Dirt is a gripping read about young Irish backpackers in Australia trying to escape from their pasts and live a different life. The character stories come together well with each story being told in an interesting and intriguing way. This is an excellent first time novel from the author. I won this book through a competition with Portbellobookblog and I am honoured to have had the chance to read and review. My only criticism was my difficulty in following the Irish dialogue at times but with ...more
This the story of young Irish people who end up in Australia after the economic crash of 2008. They go there for jobs. They end up in horrible hostels full of backpackers in Australia to drink and drug themselves out of their minds. There are hostels involved in drug trafficking, and the trafficking of young women. The novel is full of attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes that were new to me. Many employers liked to hire the Irish because they were hard workers. There were some in Australia that r ...more
Anthony Ferner
An oblique look at the fall-out from the financial crisis and recession in Ireland, Red Dirt follows the (mis)fortunes of three victims of the crash - each of them losers in their own way - as they move around the backpacker hostels, mango farms and garlic factories of Australia, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Some of the voices perhaps work better than others and the story just occasionally treads water. But the characterisation is vivid, the dialogue is pithy and demotic, and th
Elite Group
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was not for me!

This book has had countless great reviews and has been shortlisted for awards but I just did not feel any empathy to the characters at all.

It is cleverly constructed, the 3 central characters, Murph, Fiona and Hopper, all tell their story in 3 separate parts. They are all young and Irish and have travelled to Australia to escape the Irish recession.

Each story comes together at the end and shows how each of them have had to deal with their own demons and are trying to fi
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how this one escaped my radar for so long given how enamored I am with Irish authors. Elizabeth Reapy must have felt that she'd have a better chance of attracting male readers without revealing her gender a la JK Rowling. Apparently the book was rejected by publishers 14 times so I guess she didn't want to take any chances. Her excellent book reads like a thriller as it profiles three Irish young people escaping their pasts and looking for a bit of income and adventure in Australia. ...more
Francene Carroll
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
The first third of the book was compelling but I wasn't a fan of the structure. It lost momentum when the point of view changed to Fiona. I skimmed Hopper's section because I'd completely lost interest by this point. The glimpses into backpackers experiences in Australia were interesting, but overall I found the book grim and depressing.
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mixed feelings on this one. Overall, I thought the three connected stories were interesting and well written, although the slang was a bit difficult to understand at times. I guess I couldn't identify very much with the characters, which shouldn't be necessary to like a book, but I couldn't empathisize or sympathize with them and how they reacted to their problems either.
M. Lee
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Really liked this up until about half way through. Then I began to lose interest in the characters and the demons they had.

Loved the way it was constructed but by the third 'act' I couldn't care less about the characters any more.

They were too same-y, doing pretty much the same thing (drink/drugs/fruit (is garlic a fruit?) picking) and running from one place to the next with no inkling of hope.

Shame really, really liked the start.
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this book so much that I almost devoured it in a whole sitting, if it weren't for the fact that I had to go out it would have been done in a day. First thing to say is this isn't my usual sort of book but ever since I've joined the Goldsboro Books book of the month club I've always took notice of whatever books they have coming up for sale as I've never been disappointed in one. I saw this one and really liked the byline so I ordered a copy and jumped over to Netgalley to see if there we ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
What generally attracts me to Irish literature is the pervading sense of dread, often desperation, that is portrayed in fluid, eloquent, often stylish prose. This was the case in Reapy's debut novel. However, the three main characters of her three sections - "Me", "You" and "Them" - drag the sadness and failures of their young lives in Ireland with them to Australia. As readers, we become immersed in their mistakes, in their flaws and hopelessness, both hating and loving them as they struggle to ...more
Writerful Books
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There have been quite a number of books written about the immigrant experience but none as fast-paced and riveting as Red Dirt, a debut novel by E.M. Reapy, which tells the story of three Irish people escaping their recession ravaged country to find a better life in Australia. The story is told in three parts (Me, You & Them) from the point of view of Murph, Fiona and Hopper who are unknown to each other until their lives intersect while backpacking around Australia.

Read the full review at Write
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Definitely got The Beach/Trainspotting vibes with some Wolf Creek. Great voice.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-read
This is a tale of three Irish youngsters who have left Ireland for pastures new in Australia - their past and their trials, tribulations and mishaps in Australia, often caused by their own behaviour, attitudes and history. The book is in three sections - Me, You and Them.
In 'Me' we meet Murphy, staying in a backpacking hostel in Perth with his friend Shane but soon to be travelling to the Outback to work on a mango farm. They get a new acquaintance, Hopper, to tag along with them - but when Hopp
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I was in uni I remember my friends and I rejoicing that we had gone away for the summer - and *managed!*

These guys do not manage.

I met pr**ks like Murph when I was travelling and had absolutely no sympathy for his character at all, but I was gripped by the pace and rawness of the writing. It became more moving as we got to know the other two characters who are more sympathetic, albeit tragic figures who've fallen victim to their circumstances, their naivety, their loneliness and their comp
I wish I could give half stars because this was so close to being a 5 star read for me. Red Dirt is divided into 3 parts, 1 part for each of the 3 Irish backpackers whose lives are about to become intertwined. Brilliantly written, with some absolutely gripping and shocking scenes, it’s a book that really got into my head so much so that I was having dreams/nightmares about these characters.

The best section by far is the second one which revolves around Fiona’s story and is also the longest of t
Brendan Telford
Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Another hard book to rate as I really enjoyed Red Dirt although I felt that the coincidences by the end were a little too far-fetched. The Irish backpacker experience is well described, and the grittiness to some of the passages are well constructed. It was interesting to see the character of Murph - the focus of the first part of the novel - change in Hopper's perspective at the end of the novel. Many of the characters are unlikeable yet empathetic, and the Australian outback is as beautiful an ...more
Belinda Carvalho
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I found this book and the narrative voices in it unputdownable and read it in about 24 hours. It's a story of exiles : Irish econonic emigrants to Australia following the 2008 crash.
E.M. Reapy's Australia is depicted as a brutal country, unfriendly, hard to survive in but serves as a lens with which to examine Celtic Tiger Ireland and things that happened before and after the crash.
The book is split into three stories Murph, Fiona and Hopper . Each narrator is compelling, gritty and consumed by
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
fast paced tale of three young Irish emigrants to Australia - Fiona, Murph and Hopper – divided into three linked sections, out of chronological order, told from three different perspectives (first person, second person, third).
a tale of consequences, as the result of bad decisions, drugs and alcohol and poor luck.
on occasion the consequences do seem out of proportion, and can almost anticipate that each scenario is going to come to sticky end
first section's characters, the two lads, are almost
Claire Gilmour
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was really quite enjoying this book up until about half way through - Murph’s story and the initial dramatisation, description of the Aussie outback and short, snappy sections of text had me hooked.

I really liked the idea of the book - split into 3 separate sections, each being told from a different character in either first, second or third person. However, while I enjoyed the structure, I soon stopped enjoying the characters and it all got a little same same for me.

The story was all tied t
Sonia Casauria
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Irish immigrants in Australia looking for a new start-- I was transported to a land and ways of seeing through a very different perspective. Told from the point of view of three different characters the experiences of these people were often heartbreaking. The writing is amazing and I loved hearing their Irish voices in my head. I was enthralled with this book and devoured it, but then needed some time to digest. I loved the writing and the story-- I hope many more readers get their hands on thi ...more
Marguerite Doran
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book! I couldn't put it down. It's so accurate in parts. It's very descriptive regarding the bush and Austrailian cities, spot on too. I think anyone of the younger generation looking to go back-packing in Aus should give it a read before travelling. It had the whole travelling situation down to a tee. A bit dark and depressing in places but probably very relevant for today's society. It made me laugh out loud too. Very Irish! I'd give this 5 stars. It's been awhile since I ...more
Deece de Paor
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This might have been the best book I've read this year. I was told it was gripping but I didn't expect it to be so raw, or so engrossing. I want to buy everyone I know a copy and send them off to read it. The plot is so effortlessly managed, the voice can switch from male to female with no real indication of the gender of the author. If this is the debut novel I can only expect what follows to be exceptional
Niall Fitzpatrick
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The first page made me chuckle so I bought and wasn't disappointed. It kept me hooked and guessing all the way to the end with an easy writing style. I really liked how close I felt to each character, the writer being able to strip back the human ego to bare bones, the naked soul, while at the same keeping the narrative bumping along at a crisp pace. There's actually plenty of scope for a follow up, especially with the character Tommo.
Rory McFeely
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Red dirt is first and foremost a gripping, tense story of three Irish backpackers in Australia, who's lives become linked in a web of drink, drugs, and crime. Underneath that however it tells the story of the generation of Irish who left Ireland during the recession for a chance at a better life in Australia. The book is split into three parts, each told from the perspective of each of the three main characters, which I found very interesting. All in all a great, gripping read
John Murphy
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to be honest and admit I only bought this book as I liked it's title and artwork but I fell in love with the story almost from page one. This tale of young Irish backpackers in Australia is in equal turns hilarious and heart wrenching but never anything less than engrossing.
I've seen other reviewers mention that this book is part of a series but you would never know it as I didn't pick up on anything that hinted at a previous book.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read another reviewer’s comment about being drawn to Irish literature because of the pervasive sense of doom described so eloquently. I get it.
This is an unpleasant tale told well. Interesting to read in Australia of immigrants/refugees/travellers being resented for doing work the locals don’t want to do and aboriginals being feared and ostracized.
Thomas Higgins
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved it, I read the first 2/3s of the book in two days and then got too busy to read anything before finishing it again when I got a chance a few weeks later.
As a young-ish man from the west of Ireland I found the characters very relate-able and the stories were very compelling.
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