Critical Praise

Omega Park Cover“There is fine writing here, moody atmospherics and powerful drama but it is not for the faint hearted. In some ways it reminded me of Jon McGregor’s Even the Dogs in its unremittingly bleak view of the world; coming-of-age in this world is not just a matter of identity and belonging, it’s also about surviving the risks and holding onto some semblance of hope and integrity… The central characters are well drawn, even appealing sometimes, despite their behaviour… This is a courageous young author who is not afraid to tackle confronting issues of contemporary Australian life and it will be interesting to see what themes she explores in the future.”
ANZ LitLovers LitBlog – 22 July 2011

“Queensland writer Amy Barker’s debut novel, Omega Park, begins dramatically. It’s a starkly-realised moment… and from it begins a slow and skilful unravelling… Barker handles her material with such an assured restraint and delicacy that the deeper she peers into these boys’ lives, the more riveting the novel becomes. And there are some touching episodes… all told with a simplicity that only adds to their effectiveness… to write this novel with an appropriate measure of detachment shows a level of maturity that many first-time novelists struggle to find. Barker won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Emerging Author in 2008, and judging by Omega Park it was well deserved. I’ll be fascinated to see what other stories she has to tell.”
Canberra Times – Saturday, 7 November 2009

“Although I often read several books a week, it has been a while since one has compelled me to read through the night. Amy Barker’s fiction debut, Omega Park, was the winner of the 2008 Queensland Premier’s Literary award for best emerging author, and is a deserving and often beautifully written novel. At once undercut by a deep and profound current of sadness and infused with an unerring optimism, Barker’s writing is taut and expressive. With Omega Park, a tale as much about the underbelly of a housing estate as about the often heartbreaking interior lives of that community, Amy Barker has written a gently fierce story that is one of the best novels of this year.”
The Courier-Mail – Saturday, 15 August 2009

“The strength of Barker’s debut resides in her unflinching descriptions of Omega Park and her evident yet clear-eyed sympathy for those trapped within its confines… it is the grit and integrity with which she treats her material that raises it above the level of class tourism. Barker gets the sense of social isolation that places like Omega Park breed in their young: she appreciates why kids would spend night after night throwing rocks at riot police and getting beaten bloody for their trouble. She sees the kernel of worth that resistance can give to otherwise empty lives. There is plenty to admire about Barker’s first novel…”
Weekend Australian – Saturday, 29 August 2009

“…this is a powerful and brave novel.”
Adelaide Advertiser – 22 August 2009

“It is to Barker’s credit that she manages to generate sympathy for these characters, despite their personal shortcomings. She also has a talent for striking images: a car crushed into a pole is ‘like a butted-out cigarette’; a kitchen floor is covered with Band-aids ‘stuck in crosses, one over another, holding the corners of the peeling lino squares down’; a Hills Hoist spins with shirts ‘flung out like tethered ghosts’… Omega Park is an engaging read and exerts a considerable narrative grip. This tour through the dark underside of the Gold Coast is eye-opening and ultimately satisfying.”
Australian Literary Review – Volume 4, Issue 7, August 2009

Omega Park is an often scintillating social study… This community in crisis allows Barker to trawl through life on society’s margins and the result is at times deeply affecting. Her language and style are raw, but also often elegant. Her characters are vividly drawn… Leo, is surely one of the most spectacularly unfit parents ever committed to print. Amy Barker knows this world. This experience only adds to the empathy, clarity and quality of Omega Park…[a] bold, gripping, sad and very real story.”
Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin – Saturday, 12 September 2009

“…there are texts that move us to think, talk and want to do something about an issue. Amy Barker’s Omega Park nestles itself into this category very nicely. It is not only superbly written in a bluntly honest tone, it illustrates a true picture of how difficult life and growing up can be – especially in a housing commission estate. It is an impressive voice that Barker has found for her first novel. It is written in a masterful way… Read Omega Park and get a different perspective; read Omega Park and change yourself.”
ViewPoint: On Books For Young Adults – Summer 2009

“Amy Barker’s impressive debut novel is… restrained and nuanced in the way it deals with the touchy issues of social exclusion and policing. Barker manages both to convey the grim realities of life in such a place and to show that it’s still possible to take the one road out.”
Sydney Morning Herald – Saturday, 3 October 2009

Omega Park is a fine portrayal of how domestic violence, hardship and socio-economic segregation can contribute to the delinquency of otherwise decent boys. Barker creates genuine empathy for her characters’ circumstances. It will be interesting to watch … this new Australian novelist.”
The Book Show – ABC Radio National – 4 November 2009

“Barker’s skill lies in portraying these circumstances as so ingrained that the occurrence of the climactic event is not a tragedy in itself, but rather an accumulation of all the small tragedies that lead to that point. The narrative avoids bleak stereotypes through sheer force of personality—not just that of Jacob and Dingo, but their families and neighbours too… Omega Park is a powerful first novel.”
Bookseller+Publisher Magazine – August 2009 Issue, Volume 89

Omega Park is a haunting, lyrical book all about the decisions we make and the consequences we cannot control. It is a testament to Barker’s excellent narrative skill that the novel’s inciting incident… does not detract any tension or interest from the two boys’ storylines. Despite a cast of memorable characters, the real hero in this debut novel is the setting, a uniquely Queensland environment, but one sadly underexplored in fiction. Barker’s evocation of a Gold Coast community far from recorded maps, is brilliant, especially the growing emnity between “Parkees” and the police. These stories and this setting will stay with you long after you turn the final page. I certainly struggle to think of a better Queensland debut novel.”
Avid Reader Newsletter- July 2009 Issue

Omega Park is a heartbreaking modern tragedy [with] scenes of delicate tenderness, and deft sketches of horror, cruelty, selfishness, frustration, and despair. Omega Park raises many difficult social questions, and prompts a reassessment of preconceived ideas. Barker knows her subject matter too well to offer neat solutions for the complexities she has portrayed.”
inCite Magazine – Volume 30 Issue 9 September 2009

Omega Park shines. The author is 31 and writes with the knowing and know-how of a writer many years older. Barker knows her characters, their looks, their hopes and mangled dreams, their language. Here is a book that would make a very strong movie uninhibited with the narrowly focused art house genre so many Aussie films fail from. But that could be Amy Barker’s round two in her now assured writing career.”
Fraser Coast Chronicle – Saturday 1 August 2009

Omega Park is the remarkably assured first novel of Amy Barker. Barker creates her characters’ world with impressive skill and this is the novel’s greatest appeal…many readers are likely to be captivated by this tender and disquieting book, an undeniably promising debut.”


Amy Barker’s debut novel Omega Park was Winner of the 2008 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Emerging Author, shortlisted for the 2010 FAW (Fellowship of Australian Writers) Christina Stead Award, and Winner of the 2012 IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Ena Noël Award.
Amy’s second novel Paradise Earth was Winner of the 2020 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) for Best Fiction – Australia/NZ/Pacific Rim, and Finalist for Literary Fiction in the 2020 International Book Awards.