Reviews by David Francis

You Got Pages? Les Plesko and the Art of Writing
Review in the Los Angeles Review of Books

Stray Dog Winter Links

View a Press Clipping Sampler

Go to WATCH + LISTEN: Hammer Museum reading: David Francis

View a PDF of Sydney Sunday Morning Herald Review

Go to the Page 69 Test

Go to an Interview with David Francis by Michael Leonard

Go to the Curled Up With A Good Book Review

Go to the Vermin On the Mount Interview with David Francis

Praise for Stray Dog Winter

“Best Book of the Year” - The Advocate - Best Entertainment of 2008

“Best Australian novel of the year.”
 Australian Literary Review- Best of the Year  edition  

LAMBDA Literary Award Finalist (TBA)

Winner Audiophile Award 2008

“Vibrant with the discordant images of political repression and smoldering sexuality, Francis ethereally transports readers to a preternatural time where nothing and no one are what they seem.” – Booklist

“Francis’s prose has the sparse elegance of a Xeriscape.  Every detail holds water.”
Los Angeles Magazine

"unstoppable inevitable momentum...a haunting KGB tale" - Time Out Chicago

“An impressive political thriller, beautifully crafted with a spectacular climax.”
- Australian Book Review

“A stylish new literary thriller…Francis does a brilliant job of building and sustaining tension.”
- The Advocate

“Evocative and mysterious...full of a menacing beauty.” -

"[An] excellent thriller....original and unconventional....Francis is masterly at building suspense and a palpable sense of intrigue." – Sydney Morning Herald

“Truly extraordinary….the tension builds unrelentingly….sensuous, musical, a joy to read.”
LAMBDA Literary Journal

“Filled with suspense, intrigue, and a good deal of sexiness, Stray Dog Winter is a novel of breathless moments, passion, politics, and atmosphere so thick you can feel it."
- IndieBound: Indie Favorites

“Taut, suspenseful….elegantly written and perfectly executed…original, gripping and chilling, by one of Australia’s most promising young writers” - Tucson Citizen

“Stray Dog Winter - A stylish thriller.”
- WBUR Boston – Best Reads of 2008

“astute, beautiful prose…poetic.”
- Sarah Weinman – Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

“Elegantly written and grippingly suspenseful, David Francis's Stray Dog Winter takes readers right into the heart of Graham Greene country.”
Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black

“David Francis has pulled off that most difficult of feats—the elegantly-written, lyrical thriller.  This is a novel with intensity, a formidable landscape, and a plot that kept me reading all night.  Impressive and compulsively readable.” – Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales and Highwire Moon, finalist for the National Book Award

“If Alan Furst and Edmund White were ever to collaborate, the result would be something as wonderful as Stray Dog Winter.  Written with beautiful style and frightening intrigue, David Francis’s new novel is a genuine cold war thriller, and a work of art.”
 – David Ebershoff, author of The 19th Wife and The Danish Girl

“Mysterious, intense and passionate, Stray Dog Winter is a chilling snapshot of a lost era, a political thriller, and a book of rare beauty. Like Out Stealing Horses, this story is as stunning word by word as it is in its rich entirety. Not to be missed.”
 – Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Story of a Marriage and The Confessions of Max Tivoli

“This is a wonderful book, the work of a full-fledged talent who deserves to be read widely and well.”– Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You and Chang & Eng

“A literary thriller that melds cold war suspense with startling sexual intrigue, Stray Dog Winter is a fascinating, genre-bending mélange of dark state conspiracies and darker family secrets. Superbly written and profoundly original, Stray Dog Winter is a smart, provocative page-turner.” – Darren Star, writer/producer, creator of Sex and the City

"This haunting literary thriller moves through a KGB winter dreamscape with elegance and charged sexuality. Francis is a master at evoking paranoia, dislocation, sexual longing, a past that haunts us, and ties that connect and blind us. Shades of Robert Stone and Graham Greene yet Francis's spare lyric voice is uniquely his own." - Denise Hamilton, author of the "The Last Embrace" and the Eve Diamond crime novels

"Stray Dog Winter is the season in which bad things happen to innocent Australians abroad. This thriller, resonating with deep emotion, is one of the great finds in Australian literature. David Francis is a wonderful writer and one to watch closely. His careful attention to language marks him out as a superb prose stylist and lyrical storyteller." - Brian Castro, award-winning author of Birds of Passage and Shanghai Dancing

 “In beautiful, exacting strokes, David Francis restores to life a lost landscape from our recent past, luminously and terrifyingly evoking a time and place of mistrust, deception and fear.  A novel that combines high literary art with a riveting narrative, Stray Dog Winter reminds us that there is no more dangerous game than the search for love.”
Mark Sarvas, author of Harry, Revised, host and editor of The Elegant Variation

“A dark, chilly thriller…Francis makes you feel every dropping degree…Don’t ask how it ends…” - Lavender Magazine

“David Francis has a surgeon's cold eye and a poet's heart; his prose is powerful, masterful.”
Samantha Dunn, author of Not by Accident

“Francis' gorgeous prose is passionate and pressure filled.  His masterful writing delivers a rare kind of delicious suspense, the kind that's only found in the most riveting of novels.”
Yannick Murphy, author of Signed, Matahari and Here They Come

“Moscow, with its icy splendor and bald brutality, is seductively evoked in the pages of Stray Dog Winter. David Francis has created a credible, parallel universe in which nobody, particularly those with whom his protagonist is the most intimate, is what he or she seems. His hero, Darcy, is vulnerable and unfailingly sympathetic; an antipodean answer to Arkady Renko.” – Gaby Naher, author of The Truth About My Fathers

“Permeated with a brooding unease, powerfully matched by the palpable cold of winter in Moscow...sinister, suspenseful and beautifully written.”
 – Debra Adelaide, author of The Household Guide to Dying

“A story that creeps up around you and won’t let you go.  Hauntingly original and totally compelling.  I couldn’t put it down.” – Jane Turner, writer and actor

 “Stray Dog Winter is a remarkable achievement on many levels, from the poetic elegance of the prose to the atmospheric setting of the Russian capital in winter…David Francis is a writer of considerable skill…he combines a literary style with a compelling narrative about love passion and betrayal.”
 - The Canberra Times

Stray Dog Winter is a disquietingly well-crafted thriller….indicative of the author’s range and authority.”- The Melbourne Age

“…filled with suspense, intrigue and a good deal of sexiness…Stray Dog Winter is a novel of breathless moments, passion, politics and atmosphere so thick you can feel it.” – Books Inc.

“Stray Dog Winter is intriguing, deceptive and altogether engrossing.” –

David Francis echoes all the best attributes of Graham Greene’s classic novel THE THIRD MAN: the brooding atmosphere, the unrelenting sense of wariness that abounds in the curious protagonist, and the romance that brews against the backdrop of the Cold War.”  - Audiophile Magazine


Praise for The Great Inland Sea (Agapanthus Tango)

“A spare, dark, brilliant book.” - Martin Cruz Smith, author of Gorky Park

“Lyrical and lapidary. Arresting and mysterious. A most promising debut.” – Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres

"David Francis uses words like a chess player: precisely. Yet somehow, his sentences are sensual, the narrative seductive. This book is beautiful and a pleasure to read."
Chris Abani, author of GraceLand – A Novel, a Today Show BookClub selection
"Loneliness and loss well up like groundwater in this spare, haunting novel. David Francis is a master of elegant understatement." – Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander

"Restrained yet unsparing in its emotional punch, The Great Inland Sea is an exquisite story.”
 – Samantha Dunn, author of Faith in Carlos Gomez and Failing Paris

The Great Inland Sea contains, as the narrator’s mother would say, ‘a glimpsing of heaven,’ as well as precise shards of hell, and a shimmering landscape the likes of which I'd never seen until I read this truly amazing novel.”
Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon, finalist for the National Book Award

“A compelling dance across a stark and evocative landscape. Each step reveals a new perspective on the characters’ humanity and, at times, their brutality.” – Manil Suri, author of The Death of Vishnu

“…undiscovered literary brilliance…Day's story – at a walk, a trot or a hang gallop – is a truly rewarding, literary find…magically lyrical.” – Denver Post

“The Great Inland Sea is a bowl of ripe cherries: graceful and unaffected…we should be grateful for stories of this scale, crafted by writers of this skill.” – Washington Post
“David Francis may not be a poet, but he sure writes like one. His prose is lean but dreamy, full of sensual detail…It's all done with skill and elegance.” – San Francisco Chronicle

A stark enigmatic novel…as unforgiving and seductive as The Riverina itself.”
 – The Los Angeles Times

“…an elegant first novel… The author’s evocative images of Australia—the harsh yet compelling landscape, the searing heat, the inescapable dust, the ever-present insects—and his spare, elegiac style set this novel apart from most coming-of-age stories as Day’s innocence is refreshed with maturity and hopefulness.” – Booklist (starred)

“David Francis effectively uses macabre imagery to capture the essence of the flawed, ambiguous relationship, and makes excellent contrasts between the Australian and American settings…His mix of vivid imagery and fluid emotion shows great promise.”
 – Publishers Weekly

“As spare as the outback, this is an evocative and poetic first novel.”
 – Library Journal

“Spare prose, startling images and an emotional landscape as harsh as the setting.”

“…takes Midwest American boiled-down prose to the Australian outback, in a story of love stunted by a sunburned country…beautiful and moving.” – Times Literary Supplement

“…coolly poetic…striking descriptive prose and an unexpected final twist.” – The Guardian

“His spare and sensuous novel effectively alternate images of arid social and physical isolation in the northwestern Riverina with the woods and beaches, lawns and opulent estates of the Maryland shore…An open, optimistic ending and Francis’ abbreviated, tactile prose style reward the reader with options to be considered and savoured beyond the confines of the novel.” – The Advertiser

 “An exquisitely crafted and poignant story that reveals David Francis as a new writer with an extraordinary gift for language.” –

“Probably the best Australian novel of the year…It is almost painfully Australian, yet it transcends all ideas of regionalism…Francis’ subtle and spare prose is lyrical and compelling, such beautiful writing I read it all in one go.” – Sydney Morning Herald, “Best of the Year” edition

“There is a beautiful filmic quality to this novel…a testament to Francis’ skill.” – The Age

Agapanthus Tango harks to the images of outback Australia by writers such as Tim Winton…a good, and surprisingly easy, read.” – News Mail (Australia)

“David may have a good eye for a beautifully constructed paragraph, but he also still has a good eye for a beautifully constructed horse.” – Australian HorseSports

“It’s a very strange novel: both death and love seem unlikely, but you are forced to believe them at the same kind of way you are obliged to believe in your own dreams.” – The Australian

“David Francis’ debut novel hauntingly evokes the life of a boy and his efforts to make connections with the world around him.  His first-person style is even more immediately for its clipped sentences which speak simply of the grace and compassion that flows through his story.” – UK & Australian Syndicated Review (Irish News, Perthshire, Advertiser, Western Morning News, etc)

“a novel that doesn’t rest until the last page has been turned.” – La Quinazine Litteraire

 “David Francis describes the harshness of the Australian landscape with great force, where the emotion and power of sentiments gives birth to sober and violent writing that brings us to the heart of the tragedy.” – La Marseillaise

“A true literary discovery.” – Liberte

“Francis describes the Australian landscape in the most delicate of terms…the trackings between people, narrative and place are revealed as a complex map of identity.”
Courier Mail (Australia)

“…hard to believe Agapanthus Tango is a debut novel…”
Southeastern Newspapers (Australia)

“…accomplished first novel…his disciplined imagination has made [Agapanthus Tango] a first novel that disconcerts as it satisfies.” – Herald Sun Weekend

“The novel is very good indeed…the strong American-prose flavours in Agapanthus Tango mix well with the Australian storyline.” – The Book Bulletin

“One of the best reads, in my humble opinion, of this year or any other.” – TNT Magazine

“… a talented new voice…” – travellink

“Blunt, poetic, almost Faulknerian in places.” – The Big Issue

“Francis is a vivid and original writer.” – Time Out London

“A magnificent novel….. haunting evocation of a devastated boy and his valiant efforts to forge connections with the world around him…a novel where poetry flourishes on every page.” – Le Monde