​Author Laine Cunningham


Eerily mysterious, vast, dangerous and beautiful, The Family Made of Dust is a remarkable story about the special relationships families can hold dear even when they have been broken apart…and how a spare and beautiful landscape can resurrect that which we hold so dear. 

"THE BEST NOVEL IN TEN YEARS." --Hackney Literary Awards Committee

In this thrilling debut novel ranked alongside Pulitzer Prize winning authors William Styron and Horton Foote, a gripping search for a missing friend unearths the price an adopted boy paid for his family.

Gabriel Branch is a man displaced. Having lost his boyhood family to brutal adoption policies, his carefully constructed adult life balances on an emotional razor’s edge. Then his best friend disappears in the vast desert that is Australia’s interior. The only clue is an Aboriginal artifact that leads Gabe back to the land of his birth.

As he searches for the friend who was like a brother, memories arise unbidden. Memories of the uncle who swung him up into a tree and called him Little Breeze. Memories of the mother he lost. Memories of the sickly sweet candy social workers used to steal him away to an orphanage where he and his brother were separated first by walls and then by different adoptions. Armed only with his totem animal, Gabe must find real peace before a tribal shaman and the weight of his past crush him completely.

For fans of Sara Gruen’s At the Water’s Edge and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees.

Winner of the
and the

Supported by
Cornucopia Arts Center Residency
New York Mills Regional Cultural Center
Jerome Foundation Fellowships

"Ms. Cunningham shows an Australia beautiful and brutal. You know it isn't going to be a gentle ride but you're still not expecting to be kicked out of your seat onto the desert floor, rolling to a stop in the sharp-as-glass spinifex. Don't be surprised when you want to put it down but can't." - Garrison Somers, Editor-in-Chief, The Blotter literary magazine

"From the very beginning, we are in the hands of an exceptional writer as well as a master storyteller…and it is a rare treat to find both of those things in one place. A seamless package that explores not just the soul of her main character but the soul of a nation and its people. A truly special book." Edmund R. Schubert, award-winning author of Dreaming Creek and Editor of Tor anthologies

"Written by a master storyteller, this fast-paced novel initiates Cunningham into the ranks of respected authors such as Michael Ondaatje and Sarah Gruen. A deeply felt work sure to please." Dena Harris, award-winning author

"This is not an uptown homicide but one inked with shamanic intrigue and a spiritual battle of the souls." Dale Stacy, author, Diamond in the Rough

"Characters so real and memorable you won’t put this book down. This book will leave its mark as one of the best stories ever to lie in our laps." Pamela King Cable, author, ALA’s 2012 Top Fiction Pick Televenge

Ranking alongside Pulitzer-Prize winning authors
William Styron (Sophie’s Choice)
and Horton Foote (To Kill a Mockingbird)