Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, has a BA from Sydney University and a PhD from Cambridge University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow and won the university's prestigious Keene Prize for Literature in 2012. Her work has been published in the New Yorker, Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, The Missouri Review, and Best Australian Stories, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy, and the Australia Council for the Arts. Her debut novel, The Night Guest, was published by Sceptre in 2014.
McFarlane has a knack for bringing out the macabre . . . and shows herself as an exceptionally fine writer of the ways coercion and care entangle us * Publishers Weekly * McFarlane writes with a deceptively plain hand, and her style gives shape to the unanswered questions of how well we can ever know each other or ourselves . . . The writing is clever and skilful in spades * Kirkus Reviews * While lesser writers use similes to render descriptions more vivid, McFarlane's heighten aspects of her characters and advance her plots. -- Christopher Benfey * The New York Times Book Review * McFarlane has an intelligent and distinctive voice and she's a marvel at conjuring atmosphere. -- Helen Elliott * Sydney Morning Herald * Superb . . . It's not just that McFarlane's descriptions are beautiful prose, though they are. THE HIGH PLACES is more deliberate than that, and more intelligent. McFarlane strikes an emotional note on every page, whether it be humour or nostalgia or discomfort or joy . . . Nothing is forced and the reason I can't pick my favourite is that every one of the 13 stories is a winner. * The Saturday Paper * While the stories in THE HIGH PLACES are imaginative, playful, and intellectually sophisticated, it is no overstatement to suggest that their power resides in the authority of McFarlane's style, not just in her ideas. McFarlane's sentences fizz with imagery . . . The resultant voice is difficult to parse - highly assured, comic but kind, an effervescent admixture of fable, magic realism, and irony . . . [a] remarkable collection. * Australian Book Review * A terrific collection . . . a baker's dozen of powerful stories -- Jackie McGlone * The Herald (Glasgow) * Like a fascinating box of brightly coloured, faintly surreal toys -- Phil Baker * Sunday Times * In her distinct and unusual voice - the disconcerting tone and dry humour are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood or Valerie Martin - McFarlane examines relationships with uncomfortable clarity and insight, observing the subtext of human behaviour while acknowledging a mysterious power behind the reality we think we know. -- Imogen Lycett Green * Daily Mail * Deliciously unsettling, [McFarlane's] characters act and react in unexpected ways, taking both reader and themselves by surprise. -- Lucy Scholes * Observer * McFarlane has a gift for cutting into a story at precisely the right angle . . . Her writing is skilled; her point of view is unique. -- Kate Saunders * The Times *