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The Subjects

As we got closer I could see behind the sandstone a curved concrete building: a purpose-built structure. But still no fence, no wire. Not a bar in sight. For this, I’d been told that morning, I should be grateful. This was a ‘lifeline…a last chance’. That is what the judge said.

Daniel is a sixteen-year-old drug dealer and he is going to jail.

Then he’s not.

A courtroom intervention. A long car ride to a deluxe outback facility. Other ‘gifted delinquents’.

Where are they?

It’s not a jail.

It’s not a psych unit.

It’s not like any school he’s ever seen.

He is sure he and the others are part of an experiment. But he doesn’t know who’s running it or what they are trying to prove. And he has no idea what the next seven months are going to do to him.


2SER: Final Draft 
2SER: Book Club 
3CR: Published or Not 
3RRR: Backstory (0:11:00)
ABC Radio National: All in the Mind 
ABC Radio National: Bookshelf 
ABC Radio Sydney: Focus (0:39:00) 
Australian ($) 
Booktopia: The best books we read in June 
First Time podcast 
Guardian: The school-to-prison pipeline: how the criminal justice system fails at-risk kids (opinion)
Marie Claire: The Must-Read Books of the Moment 
Radio NZ 
Saturday Paper
Sydney Morning Herald 
Weekend Australian Magazine ($) 
Yarra Libraries podcast (autoplay) 

Sarah Hopkins
About the Author

Sarah Hopkins is the author of three novels including The Crimes of Billy Fish, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. She works as a lawyer in Sydney and is married with two children.

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Text publication date:
4 June 2019
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Praise for Sarah Hopkins
andThe Subjects

‘This is a layered novel, ambitious in scope, its characters vividly drawn and resisting the cliches of delinquency. Its own narrative offers a masterclass, deftly pacing its reveals and alive to the questions they raise. And it does so with a stubborn optimism at its heart.’

‘Rewarding and surprising.’

The Subjects is a novel with an agenda, enticing us to engage with what is wrong but also to imagine something better…[T]imely, thought-provoking and inspirational.’

‘The story is a slow reveal yet one that keeps the tension at a high pitch and the reader second guessing.’

The Subjects is energetic and compelling from the opening pages. And in Daniel we find a voice that I was worried was disappearing from Australian fiction: unpretentious, smart and lacking in all mawkishness. It’s a joy to hear him, and it is a joy to read a book of such complex ideas that is also alert to the art of storytelling.’

‘A vivid, human (and humane) novel with an irresistible dark pull. The Subjects explores the utopian madness of social engineering in a similar way to Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things

‘Raises a lot of issues that are worth reflecting on.’

‘Its memorable cast of characters, rendered with such energy and compassion…seem to hum with life.’

‘Deliciously clever reading with a dark and urgent pull. Prepare to stay up all night!’

‘A wonderful book… Hopkins is making a really interesting statement about treatment without pharmaceuticals.’

’The story of Daniel will get under your skin and stay with you long after it ends.’

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