Denizen is an Australian gothic thriller that explores rural Australia’s simultaneous celebration of harsh country and stoic people – a tension that forces its inhabitants to dangerous breaking points.
On a remote property in western NSW, nine-year-old Parker fears that something is wrong with his brain. His desperate attempts to control this internal chaos spark a series of events that gallop from his control in deadly and devastating ways.
Years later, Parker, now a father himself, returns to the bushland he grew up in for a camping trip with old friends. When this reunion descends into chaos amid revelations of unresolved fear, guilt and violence, Parker must finally address the consequences of his childhood actions.
'Mesmerising, eviscerating, beguilingly strange and darkly lyrical – Denizen is a feat of talent and artistic courage, the kind of a book about which you can only speak using most powerful adjectives. This novel, I believe, is destined to become one of Australia’s modern classics. A dazzling debut and one of the best Australian novels I’ve ever read.' Lee Kofman, author of The Dangerous Bride and The Writer Laid Bare
'Denizen is breathtaking, utterly breathtaking. Superbly written, perfectly paced, and with characters that leave you aching, it is quite simply a masterpiece. Be prepared to have your mind blown.' Lyn Yeowart, author of The Silent Listener
‘Denizen is a novel everyone will be talking about. It’s equal parts gripping, devastating and gut-wrenching as it tackles a myriad of meaty themes including fatherhood, mental illness, and the ruggedness of rural Australia – both its people and the landscape. It’s one part literary thriller, another part psychological study, blended powerfully and uncompromisingly.' Simon McDonald, PRH ABA Young Bookseller of the Year
‘I was shaken and moved and stunned. I can’t remember the last time a book rocked me to my core like Denizen did.’ Michelle Tom, author of Ten Thousand Aftershocks
‘A raw and powerful piece of outback gothic that fearlessly tackles some big issues and wraps them up in a twisty psychological thriller that draws the reader inexorably towards a devastating climax. It’s a Venus flytrap of a book.' Justin Ratcliffe, Publishing Director of PRH Australia
‘Beautifully written, cleverly constructed and devastatingly depicted. ... Shook me up and stayed with me long after I finished the last page.’ Petronella McGovern, author of Six Minutes and The Good Teacher
'A gut-wrenching and mesmerising literary thriller that explores what can occur when rural stoicism and isolation intersect with mental health and its cost to parents and children, stretching across generations. Confronting and powerful and in a league of its own.' Dinuka McKenzie, author of The Torrent
‘There’s a brutal ferocity between mother and son in Denizen. James McKenzie Watson doesn’t pull his punches at all. … All is at risk and there is nowhere safe.’ David Vann, internationally bestselling author of Legend of a Suicide
‘Denizen overturns expectations and avoids easy solutions. ... This is not easy subject matter to treat, yet Watson handles it masterfully.’ Luke Stegemann, author of Amnesia Road and The Beautiful Obscure
‘A new Australian talent for fans of David Vann and Cormac McCarthy.’ Ashley Kalagian Blunt, author of How to Be Australian