Winner of the 2019 Penguin Literary Prize

In 1982, a car overturns on a remote West Australian road. Nobody is hurt, but the impact is felt for decades.

Nicole and Samantha Cooper both remember the summer day when their mother, Tina, lost control of their car – but not in quite the same way. It is only after Tina’s death, almost four decades later, that the sisters are forced to reckon with the repercussions of the crash. Nicole, after years of sabotaging her own happiness, seems finally content but still can’t get through to her sister. And Samantha is hiding something that might just tear apart the life she’s worked so hard to build for herself.

The Spill explores the cycles of love, loss and regret that can follow a family through the years – moments of joy, things left unsaid, and things misremembered. Above all, it is a deeply moving portrait of two sisters falling apart and finding a way to fit back together.



Praise for The Spill

“Intriguing, subtle and brimful of subterranean sadness, The Spill sucked me in from the first page. A thoughtful, sensitive look at the lies we tell ourselves and the stories we tell each other, and the ways we help piece together the people closest to us.”

“Brilliantly comic and tender, this is a sharp and intimate portrayal of that most mystifying of things: family. Neeme gives us a real world; of chaotic fragments drawn with charm and compassion. These are people, like us, making lives of their messes.”

“This compelling, beautifully crafted story introduces us to a pair of sisters, and then peels back the layers of their history to reveal the complexities and contradictions at the heart of love. Reading The Spill feels like being welcomed into a new family and gradually making sense of their complicated dynamics. The sisters and their troubled mother are flawed, frustrating, and at times infuriating, yet relatable and deeply endearing. Imbi Neeme is a hugely talented writer with an eye for the nuances that inform relationships. The family and their history will linger on in your mind long after you’ve finished the book.”

“Imbi Neeme’s prose thrums, and her characters are so deep and richly imagined that it’s astounding to think The Spill is her first novel. This is the story of sisters coming to terms with their mother’s alcoholism and their father’s shortcomings as a husband and a parent, but it’s also a study of generational cause and effect and the ways we hurt the ones we most want to protect. I was hooked at first by the writing, but I soon found myself so invested in the characters that I didn’t come up for air until I’d finished.”