Amid the chaos of sweeping bushfires, Persia gives birth alone at home with tragic consequences. Traumatised and grieving, she travels north, and encounters Ahmed, a refugee fleeing deportation and his past in Pakistan.

So begins a road trip to the dead heart of Australia, a journey that transcends the limits of ordinary experience. In Persia and Ahmed's world, ancient winds wreak havoc across generations, lightning ignites flames that both destroy and rejuvenate, and water drowns then delivers. Hearts break, days are leavened with loss, laughter kills and cinnamon preserves.

Lightning is an odyssey across continents and centuries that explores identity and connection, and our yearning to reveal ourselves even when cloaked in crippling grief. A glorious feat of magic realism, and a moving meditation on finding hope in the rubble of our lives, Lightning celebrates the way our stories and their telling keep us alive when all else is pulling us under.

Author's note:

When I was seven, my parents, both of whom were English teachers and writers, took a year-long sabbatical.  They packed up our family, locked the door to our home in Melbourne and launched us into twelve months of chugging around Europe in a Bedford campervan, occasionally visiting schools to substantiate the ‘sabbatical’ claim.  So was my appetite whet for travel, for the vagaries of adventure, the story-studded road and the capriciousness of destination.    More... 


Reviews and Interviews

  • 'This beguiling, fearless, passionate and, above all, poetic novel gripped me right from the start. Like an antipodean version of One Thousand and One Nights, it's full of the power of stories, not just to enchant and distract and hold off death, but rather to reawaken love and to cherish life, however brief that might be.' Debra Adelaide, bestselling author of The Household Guide to Dying

  • ‘Brave, beguiling and beautiful. At last Australian story-telling that joins us with the whole world.’ Heather Rose, author of White Heart, The Butterfly Man, and The River Wife

  • ‘A road novel, a tale of magic realism, a story of two outsiders finding each other, and a search for identity saga. Lightning, an ambitious, finely written novel from first-time author Felicity Volk, is all of these and more.’ Max Oliver, Books + Publishing interview (2 May 2013)

  •  Max Oliver, Books + Publishing review (8 May 2013)

  •  'In crafting a desperate book that somehow does not cause despair, Volk proves she belongs to that rare breed of writer who has seized language by the throat.  Lightning marks the arrival of an assured, powerful new voice in Australian literary fiction.'  Jennifer Peterson-Ward, The West Australian - Weekend West magazine, 1 June 2013

  •  'Few first novelists are as assured and articulate as Felicity Volk.' Alison Broinowski,  Australian Book Review, July-August 201 3

  • 'Lightning is a beautifully crafted novel and an impressive debut from Volk. I would expect that it will be one to receive the attention of the 2013 Miles Franklin or Stella Award committees.' Book'd Out, 17 July 2013

  •  'Brim(s) with invention and intelligence...', Peter Pierce, The Weekend Australian, 27-28 July 2013

  • '...thoughtful, dreaming, poetic prose, and stories that explore inner selves as much as outer worlds.' Dinner at Caphs, 1 September 2013
  • 'Beautiful, haunting, incisive, emotional.  Lightning by Felicity Volk is an epic (and enviable) debut.  Buy, read, weep.' Jo McKay, Deputy Editor, InStyle magazine. 26 September 2013

  • 'LIGHTNING by Felicity Volk (Picador)is an astonishing debut novel boasting pure, perfect crystalline prose, a prodigious intellect, and a propensity of storytelling talent and technique...Felicity Volk is the latest great find in Australian publishing...expect Volk to be in the forefront of best lists and recipient of prizes. LIGHTNING is a lightning strike on the Australian storytelling scene, a bolt of brilliance – flash, electric, startling.' Richard Cotter, Sydney Arts Guide, 27 September 2013
  • 'Lightning is full of beautiful, resonant passages.' A rabble of butterflies 1 October 2013
  •  'Searing emotional intensity is at the heart of this remarkable tale of Persia and Ahmed as they embark on journeys, metaphorical and literal, across Australia.  Beautifully structured, Felicity Volk's debut is confident and meditative.' InStyle magazine, November 2013


Book Launch