Gabriel Packard




The paperback and hardcover editions of  The Painted Ocean , Gabriel Packard’s debut novel

The paperback and hardcover editions of The Painted Ocean, Gabriel Packard’s debut novel

The Painted Ocean, published by Corsair/Little, Brown, is Gabriel Packard’s debut novel. National Book Award-winner Colum McCann called it “a fearless tour de force” and called Gabriel “a major new literary talent.” National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Darin Strauss called it “a thrilling and literate debut,” New York Times-best seller Claire Messud called it “an unsettling and unforgettable book,” and it received honors including being named a W.H. Smith Fresh Talent selection, an Amazon Best Debut and Amazon Rising Star, and a Best Book or Top Pick by a number of publications. Gabriel also received a K. Blundel Trust Award for it, from the Society of Authors, while it was being written.

PRIASE for The Painted Ocean

Colum McCann

National Book Award winner, New York Times best seller

"Gabriel Packard is a major new literary talent, and his debut novel The Painted Ocean is a fearless tour de force. It is a rare  achievement—an emotionally rich work of literature, delivered in the form of a gripping, page-turning story. The depiction of a British Indian childhood and adolescence is utterly compelling, as is the allegorical exploration of the human condition."

The Sydney Morning Herald

"Gabriel Packard's raw debut grips your attention." "This debut novel... grabs you by the throat and holds on tight."

ABC Radio

"Gabriel Packard's novel, The Painted Ocean, is an assured debut… The novel works as a gripping thriller, but… also [as] an allegory of a globalized world where forced labour is an all too common reality." "It is a literary page-turner." "In Gabriel Packard's debut novel, Lord of the Flies gets a fierce post-colonial, globalized twist." "It's a literary thriller partially set on an isolated island in the Indian Ocean... The story is shadowed by themes of slavery and forced migration. "

Listen to an interview with Gabriel Packard on ABC Radio's "Books and Arts". [Listen on]

The Sunday Star-Times

"Book clubs will be in meltdown over this first novel by UK author and creative writing lecturer Gabriel Packard... Undoubtedly, there will be fireworks. Brick Lane meets Lord of the Flies is one description, but you can also throw in a bit of The Island, only with fewer people." "[Gabriel Packard is] an author who writes very well..."


Darin Strauss

National Book Critics Circle Award winner, New York Times best seller

"Gabriel Packard has written the sort of book publishers, readers, the whole world is hungry for: a thrilling and literate debut, a smart page-turner that takes your emotions and wraps them around its brutal, quick fist."

Claire Messud

Addison Metcalf Award winner, New York Times best seller

"Gabriel Packard’s debut is unlike any other. Told by the ill-fated but indomitable Shruti, whose… experience hovers somewhere between the dark world we know, and an imaginary darker still. The Painted Ocean is an unsettling and unforgettable book."

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Whiting Writers Award winner, The New Yorker contributing writer

"Dreamlike in its intensity, epic in its scope, The Painted Ocean is a powerful fiction debut. Gabriel Packard has a style that is propulsive, unforgettable and utterly unique." 

Tom Sleigh

John Updike Award winner, Shelley Prize winner, Kingsley Tufts Award winner

"The Painted Ocean has the heart and intelligence and verbal brilliance of Charles Dickens, and a young narrator who is as lively, smart, and full of feeling as, say, Huck Finn. Gabriel Packard’s debut novel… has the potential to be one of those books that everybody wants to read—the humanity of the main character under extreme duress, and the marvelous idiom in which she speaks, are both hauntingly compelling. As with Dickens and Twain, the voice that Packard has created is complex, morally challenging, and a true literary achievement."

W.H. Smith "Fresh Talent Series" selection

The Painted Ocean by Gabriel Packard selected for the W.H. Smith “Fresh Talent” series. 

The Bookseller

"A W.H.S. spokesperson said: '[...]Offering fresh voices, new characters and intriguing perspectives on life, there’s nothing quite like taking a chance on an emerging author and falling head first into their world.'"

The National

"Top Pick Book" 

[Arts & Life]

Red Magazine, Hearst Media

A Red Magazine "Best Book."

"This ambitious debut novel has an unforgettable narrator."


The Canberra Times

"We're in inescapable Lord of the Flies territory."

The Age 

"Packard... has worked as a researcher for E.L. Doctorow, Peter Carey and Jonathan Franzen. This novel feels like his aha moment of "I can do it too." And he can." [Arts & Entertainment]

The Saturday Paper

"It is South East England; the cusp of the ’90s. The whole country feels like a song by The Smiths. It is a set-up of Dickens-level..."

"Gabriel Packard [has] a gift for driving narrative forward... The narrative, which has so far moved at a decent clip, flips the nitro switch."


An Amazon “Rising Star" and "Best Debut" book.

The Daily Review

"Thoroughly engaging, funny and moving."

The Australian Way

"The novel from the respected Hunter College (New York) associate director of creative writing -- who has done research for Jonathan Franzen and Peter Carey -- is one impressive debut. Reminiscent of Dickens in its dramatic scope and descriptive passion, with obvious (favorable) comparisons to Monica Ali's Brick Lane... subsequent adventures stray onto Lord of the Flies turf. The writing is rich and immediate, compelling in its intensity. The pages seem to turn themselves." [IQ]

Electric Literature

“Gabriel Packard’s debut will get readers’ hearts pounding and breaking.”


Audio links:

ABC Radio interview: listen on iTunesAudio BoomPlayer.fmPodtail

External The Painted Ocean pages: 

Hachette International & Hachette UK

Little, Brown 

Little, Brown, Spring Catalog 

Little, Brown design


Peters, Fraser and Dunlop

Google Plus


Poets & Writers


Readings, Independent bookstore chain

"I finished an advanced copy of this March release a couple of weeks ago and was so affected by it that I only now feel able to coherently discuss it…

"From discussions I have read thus far there seems to be a strong division of opinion regarding this book (in my view making it an excellent choice for book groups). The main point of contention seems to be the second half of the book and whether it should be taken literally or metaphorically. My verdict? I was somewhere in between with my interpretation and certainly at times questioned the dramatic shift in plot. However, I was so mesmerized while reading this novel and couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks afterwards that I ultimately have to acknowledge it as a significant and powerful reading experience."

Better Read Than Dead, Bookstore

Book of the Month

"This is a challenging read, in a great way. The challenge lies in the riveting way this novel was executed... Although I’ve read several books since finishing The Painted Ocean, my thoughts keep returning to it... a literary feat that is extremely intense and will definitely challenge your reading sensibility."

Ajoobacats, The Map Stories, The Universe in Words