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A compelling novel about the influence of the bleak landscape of Drybread and of a journalist who becomes personally involved with the story he's investigating there.

A graveyard is all that's left of the remote Central Otago settlement of Drybread, which miners, often hungry and disappointed, once searched for gold. It is to an old cottage nearby that Penny Maine-King flees with her young son, defying a Californian court order awarding custody of the child to her estranged husband. And seeking her in this austere, burnt country is journalist Theo Esler. He is after a story, but he discovers something far more personal and significant.

Drybread, Owen Marshall's third novel, is a moving study of love and disappointment, of the harm we do to each other, knowingly and unknowingly, of the power and significance of landscape in our lives. Rich and subtle, it is a compelling book from one of this country's finest writers.

'Marshall is held in uncommon affection by New Zealand readers - generally we admire and respect rather than love our writers.' - Peter Simpson, New Zealand Listener

'I'm an admirer of Owen Marshall's literature, with my favourite stories, chapters, etc.' - Janet Frame

'Among active New Zealand writers only Maurice Gee writes with comparable - and equally unfashionable - moral and psychological weight.' - Lawrence Jones

'I find myself exclaiming over and again with delight at the precision, the beauty, the near perfection of his writing.' - Fiona Kidman, The Dominion.


Drybread’s success lies in Marshall’s dextrous examination of the ambiguities of relationships – between parents and children, spouses, work colleagues and lovers – and how the needs of those on the inside don’t often coincide . . . In its best moments, Drybread contains what Marshall achieves in his stories, and the narrative pace fluctuates from a thriller to a love story.

Kevin Rabalais, NZ Listener

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    August 3, 2007

    RHNZ Vintage

    272 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

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  • EBook


    December 1, 2010

    Random House New Zealand

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
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    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

Also by Owen Marshall

Love as a Stranger
A Many Coated Man
Carnival Sky
Sojourn in Arles
The Larnachs
Living As a Moon
Essential New Zealand Short Stories
Harlequin Rex


The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Gentleman in Moscow
Echo Burning
Best Laid Plans
The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Girl on the Train
Dragonfly In Amber
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Golden Age
The Golden House
Swing Time
The Bear and The Nightingale
The Mistress
The Girls
Tiger Men
Fifty Shades Darker
The Secret Vineyard
Ready Player One