The Paper House


Out Now
$32.99 (paperback) $11.99 (eBook/Kindle)
Published by Picador (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Anna Spargo-Ryan’s astonishing debut: the stylistically brilliant, fearless and heartbreaking story
of a woman grieving the death of her child.

Longlisted for the ABIA’s Matt Richell Award

Buy it from your favourite local independent bookseller, or any of these fine places:

And then I was pregnant, and we realised we had no space for a baby.
We looked at all kinds of houses: big, new ones with columns and render; little cottages with beaten weatherboard; a yellow brick monstrosity with a paved yard where there should have been grass. But we were drawn to the rolling water. And our heart stayed behind when we left.


Heather and Dave have found the perfect place to raise their first child. The house has character, but it’s the garden that really makes it: red-faced impatiens, pockmarked gums, six upright pittosporums to keep the neighbours out. It’s a jungle. A hiding place. A refuge.

And then, without warning, that life is over.

Heartbreaking, fearless, and ablaze with a coruscating beauty all its own, THE PAPER HOUSE tells the story of a woman sinking into the depths of grief, and the desperate efforts of her loved ones to bring her up for air. A sharp-eyed, bittersweet depiction of the love between parents and children, and the havoc that love can wreak.


Books + Publishing star-full star-full star-full star-full
“… a strong debut novel from a fascinating new voice in Australian fiction.”

“… a tender evocation of a marriage, an imperfect family and a community … Spargo-Ryan is a young writer to watch.”

The Sydney Morning Herald
“… The Paper House dances through its subject, dealing intelligently with tragedy without becoming grim itself.”

Herald Sun (25/6)
“… a moving, heartbreaking and gripping debut novel from Spargo-Ryan, who has a talent for conveying raw emotion that draws in the reader.”

Australian Women’s Weekly (August 2016)
“[this] beautiful, mournful debut is such a consistently unrivalled and fresh voice, it is almost impossible to … dissect its voluminous heart … A [literary] star is born.”

The Advertiser
“This is a wild, compassionate ride of a novel, mapped with tenderness and ultimate hope.”

The Paper House is one of my new favourite Australian novels, and stands out as one of the best books of 2016.”

Australian Book Review
“This début is an affecting portrait of a family pulled together and wrenched apart by mental illness.”

The Weekend Australian
“… impressive representation of a journey into emotional states that can be ridden through but never controlled.”

The AU Review
The Paper House never once lost my attention. It’s a sensual feast, one sees and feels everything as Heather does.”

Daily Review
The Paper House is a frank depiction of depression that manages to be moving without becoming morbid.”

Grapeshot (Macquarie University)
“Here is a book that is absolutely dripping with raw feeling, rendered in crystalline, fluid prose.”

Sunday Style
“Equally heartbreaking, uplifting and insightful … this debut novel navigates the difficult territory of grief and mental illness with deceptive ease.”

“Spargo-Ryan’s debut novel is a heartbreakingly astute exploration of the power of love …”

Newtown Review of Books
“… brave and assured writing, with fascinating characters in a delicate situation, and it is filled with gorgeous images and language …”