The City Limit Novels
City Limit is a trilogy of novels written by Australian writer RJ Smith between 2017-21, published three months apart starting with Dream City in July 2022.
Each book follows two characters who insert themselves into radically new environments in the hope of feeling something in an anaesthetised world.
The books are inspired by writers who explore the darker side of human nature such as Paul Bowles, JG Ballard, Patricia Highsmith, Kenneth Cook, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
The City Limit books share characters and themes, but are standalone works, and may be read in order.
In a nameless harbour city, James Mathers is a 30 year-old intellectual property lawyer who appears to have it all. But James is unsettled inside, having realised the prestige attached to his job is all an illusion.
When James discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him, he takes a room at the Dream City casino, a city within a city where a new logic seems to rule. At the Dream, James encounters Anton, a brilliant former classmate expelled in the tenth grade.
With Anton, James travels into the Dream’s dark heart, and is soon unable to distinguish the stakes of the gaming lounge from those of the world outside.
Tossed out by his girlfriend and impoverished by his dreams, Rick Hinton moves into a neighbourhood of northern Paris that is cheap, crime-ridden and perfect for his purposes.
With only his unhinged American friend Anton ‘Tony Extra’ Ford for company, Rick encounters a society in decline, his horror turning to resignation as his funds dry up and his morals slip away.
Rick and Anton believe that art might save them, an obsession which devolves into an absurd and dangerous game with the potential to destroy them both.
Paperback out 12 October 2022
ZONA SUL NIGHTS
Disillusioned with academic life, Rick Hinton leaves Chicago for Rio de Janeiro, hungry for change and ready to say yes to everything.
On arrival he befriends Anton Ford, an intrepid Australian journalist investigating the migration of dangerous drug gangs into the middle class enclaves of the city's 'Zona Sul' (Southern Zone) following the state’s favela ‘pacification’ program.
With Anton, Rick embarks upon two odysseys in parallel—one into the shadows of a city, the other to the edge of reason—both leading inexorably to a point of no return.
Paperback out 12 January 2023
I am an Australian writer living in Paris, France. I grew up in Sydney and have lived in London and Rio de Janeiro. In addition to writing, I teach legal English and English law at Paris universities I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and X (Nanterre).
My short story, Day One of Eternity was Highly Commended in the 2015 Manchester Fiction Prize, and I have had articles published in Quillette and Quadrant magazines as well as The Australian newspaper. The City Limit novels are my first.