Sydney-born poet and novelist Louis Armand has lived in Prague since 1994. Such self-imposed literary exile tends to intensify the artist’s sense of what they’ve left behind – think of how James Joyce ensconced himself in Zurich to write Ulysses – and that’s certainly true of Armand’s latest fiction. Abacus follows an Australian family through every decade of the 20th century, though to call it a domestic saga would be misleading. Armand’s plot is so oblique and refractory to narrative impulse that what looms largest are transitions in Australian culture. Peppered with advertisements and newspaper clippings and letters to Women’s Weekly (perhaps the influence of Joyce again), Abacus weaves an erudite but harsh beauty from the tattered seams of Australian history.