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My life is about to begin.

This is the only thought in Irene’s head on the day she marries a handsome Second World War veteran and becomes a farmer’s wife. But Irene quickly grows restless. Bored to her back teeth, she is scornful of her dutiful husband, heedless of her children. She wants adventure, to experience whatever is on offer: men, travel, culture. As Irene and Rex raise children and crops, the tension between them builds and builds …

Kate Jennings’s black humour and pared-back prose, at once understated and rich in startling imagery, resonate long after the final unnerving chapter. Set in an irrigation area – barren soil blessed by water – Snake is a modern classic.

‘The work of a powerful imagination.’ —Carol Shields, New York Times Book Review

‘Irresistibly good.’ —Shirley Hazzard

‘A taut, poignant story. That she makes your heart ache for both her protagonists is a testimony to her artistry.’ —The Sunday Telegraph

‘How often do you find a book that seizes you and doesn’t let go until it has finished its assault? Snake does that, quite painfully and beautifully.’ —Australian Book Review

‘This snake of a novel is lethal and fast-moving – and so spare it will leave readers wishing for more.’ —Publishers Weekly

‘It’s hard to believe a full-blown family tragedy can be told so wholly and well in such small, deft snatches, but then rarely has a poet’s skill at compaction been put to better use in prose. You can easily read the entire book in one sitting – and only upon standing be struck by how much pity and terror you’ve consumed.’ —Los Angeles Times

Kate Jennings is a poet, essayist, short-story writer and novelist. Both her novels, Snake and Moral Hazard, were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. She has won the ALS Gold Medal, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and the Adelaide Festival fiction prize. Born in rural New South Wales, she has lived in New York since 1979. Her most recent books are Stanley and Sophie, Quarterly Essay 32: American Revolution and Trouble: Evolution of a Radical.