The Trespassers

Author: Meg Mundell

Publisher/Year: University of Queensland Press/2019

Publisher Description

Fleeing their pandemic-stricken homelands, a shipload of migrant workers departs the UK, dreaming of a fresh start in prosperous Australia. For nine-year-old Cleary Sullivan, deaf for three years, the journey promises adventure and new friendships; for Glaswegian songstress Billie Galloway, it’s a chance to put a shameful mistake firmly behind her; while broke English schoolteacher Tom Garnett hopes to set his future on a brighter path. But when a crew member is found murdered and passengers start falling gravely ill, the Steadfast is plunged into chaos. Thrown together by chance, and each guarding their own secrets, Cleary, Billie and Tom join forces to survive the journey and its aftermath.


Judges: Karina Kilmore, Philomena Horsley, Bec Kavanagh, Pauline Meaney, Debbie Stephen and Moraig Kisler

Judges’ Comments

Judges were mesmerised from the novel’s opening page to the very last word. Each sentence is poetry, and the story enthrals from start to finish. The Trespassers is presciently set during a global pandemic, and is speculative, literary fiction at its finest. It tracks the deprivations and fears of passengers sailing from London to Melbourne as new infections break out on board. Its themes of murder, indentured labour and corporate sabotage conclude in a chilling and haunting finale.