As an internationally renowned writer who has lived on four continents and who often feels what she describes as "dislocated," even in her native Australia, Janette Turner Hospital has long centered her novels and stories on characters who inhabit the margins of specific geographical locations. In her acclaimed novel Oyster (1996), however, she uses physical dislocation as a metaphor to explore the nature of narrative itself. Setting Oyster in the forbidding Australian Outback, Hospital contrasts the necessity of maps for people crossing the border to that huge expanse of desert and the unreliability of all maps. In Oyster, readers must become users of maps if they hope to negotiate the complexity of this nonlinear novel. Although maps, stories, and words themselves are no more than "poignant ideas of order," Hospital urges the reader to continue trying to know the story, even if no story (or novel such as Oyster) can be fully known.