Post Script: Black British – Hebe De Souza

Black British

Black British

Hebe De Souza

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781925384932

 

Description:

A sharply funny yet poignant story about a courageous girl growing up in 1960s North India, from an exciting new voice in Australian fiction.

 

In the turbulent years that follow the British Empire’s collapse in India, rebellious and inquisitive Lucy de Souza is born into an affluent Indian family that once prospered under the Raj. Known as Black British because of their English language and customs, when the British deserted India Lucy’s family was left behind, strangers in their own land.

 

Now living isolated from the hostile locals who see her family as remnants of an oppressive regime, a young Lucy grows up in the confines of their grand yet ramshackle home located in the dry, dispirited plains of Kanpur. But when it is time to start her education, Lucy finds herself angry and alone, struggling to find her place in this gentle country ravaged by poverty and hardship, surrounded by girls who look like her but don’t speak her language. Encouraged by her strong-minded mother and two older sisters, as she matures the ever-feisty Lucy begins to question the injustices around her, before facing a decision that will change the course of her life forever.

 

A richly visceral and stunning debut, based on the author’s own childhood, Black British is an unflinching and beautiful narrative about feminism, family and the search for identity.

 

 

My View:

Capturing the innocence of youth this novel has a charming authentic voice and I loved every word of it.  Lucy De Souza is our narrator – she is charming, innocent, well-mannered yet delightfully inquisitive about the world; she likes things to makes sense, to be logical (and the Sisters in the convent don’t speak of logic, rather demand their charges obey without question) and Lucy likes to question. At times humorous but mostly full of intelligent observations of the world around her, this is a very engaging read. Lucy how did you get to be so smart? Family makes such a big and lasting impression here.

 

 

A thoughtful look at history, colonialism, migration and displacement with a feminist bent, this story is succinct yet powerful. Hebe De Souza asks and answers the question – what/where is home?   Her response is interesting and personal and can be applied to contemporary discussions regarding refuge and migration today.  A wonderful, well written, engaging read.

 

 

Spotlight On Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival – Bernice Barry

Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

Please welcome acclaimed local author Bernice Barry to my blog and the festival.

Bernice Barry

Originally from the Atlantic coast of England’s far southwest, Bernice moved to Margaret River in 2001 and has spent the last fourteen years creating a native garden in the bush. In 2011, she closed the door on a career in international curriculum innovation, as an adviser on the teaching of literacy, to focus on her lifelong interest in writing, literature and history.

In 2012, her short story ‘Mornings Like This’ won the first regional writers’ award in the Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival short story competition. In March 2015, after eleven years of research, her biography of botanist and local settler Georgiana Molloy was self-published in Western Australia. In March 2016 the book was published by Pan Macmillan in Australia and New Zealand under the Picador imprint: ‘Georgiana Molloy: the Mind that Shines’.

Georgiana Molloy: the Mind that Shines’

 

http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/author/bernice-barry

 

Bernice will be participating in a session on SAT 4 June 5.20pm; Flowers at Home.

 

I recently caught up with Bernice and she discussed the meaning of Home: Where We Feel We Belong

 

“Some people can put a favourite book and a family photo on the bedside table and suddenly a motel room feels like home. Others need to live and grow and put down emotional roots in a place for years before the connections feel strong enough to use a word that’s so deeply associated with our sense of self. The details may be different for each of us but we all share some overlapping understandings of the concept of ‘home’.

 

When I first arrived in the southwest, nearly fifteen years ago, it was a strong feeling of having finally arrived home that made me want to stay and never leave. I’ve never felt so connected to any place before and I believe it was this same bond that captured Georgiana Molloy’s heart, mind and spirit when she arrived in 1830.  She wrote about it far better than I do, her letters and diaries sharing in glorious words her love of the land, river, ocean, plants and trees around her. I hear from so many readers who recognise, in my book about Georgiana’s life, their own very personal bond with their West Australian home.  I think, for all of us, it’s simple. Home is the place where we feel we belong.”

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Lost Boy and Other Stories- Estelle Tang Ed.

Cover Lost Boy and Other Short Stories

Lost Boy and Other Stories

Edited by Estelle Tang

Margaret River Press

ISBN: 9780987561589

 

 

Description:

This anthology edited by Estelle Tang is a collection of stories submitted to the annual Margaret River Short Story Competition. The competition attracts both emerging and established short story writers, some of who have won local, national and international awards or have been published in The Best Australian Stories, and in journals such as Overland, Southerly, Island and Griffith Review.

We live in the world. But how that world manifests for each of us is different—utterly dependent on circumstances. The people we are born to know and the places we are born to see fix us in their sights, and that’s it. That’s where our stories come from. The stories here are all charged with a human affinity that reaches through the page.

Of these worlds, we might note how geography shapes them, and so heed the callous colonialism of mid twentieth-century Sri Lanka, as seen in Michelle Wright’s ‘To Call Things by Their Right Name’, or note the different kinds of mystery Australian visitors to Laos might find, as Beverley Lello evokes in ‘Scenes from a Disappearance’. Other stories are circumscribed by the strictures and saving graces of family, which can create such specific, affecting universes. Take the child narrator of Rosemary Allen’s ‘What Has to Be Done’, whose observations unwittingly create rents in the fabric of her familial life. And while the bizarre behaviour of a lost man in Susan McCreery’s ‘The Uninvited’ alienates and frightens us, his understanding of parenthood humanises him once more.

We’re guided to still smaller spheres elsewhere in the collection: think of the atmosphere that produces its own pull between two people in conversation, as in Jeannie Haughton’s ‘Weight-Bearing Exercise’, or a girl communing with such an elemental force as the weather, which we witness in Cassie Hamer’s ‘Glory Season’.

 

 

My View:

Such a diverse and interesting collection of short stories that are destined to make you think; some will prick at your conscience, some will make you nod your head in agreement and some will make you smile.

 

The first story, which is the winner of this year’s Margaret River Short Story Prize, Lost Boy by Melanie Napthine is intense and will leave you contemplating the society we live in where children/the childlike, are at still at great risk…This is a story that stayed with me long after I turned the page. Eva Lomski’s The Trapper evoked so many feelings; the trauma and consequences of domestic/family violence has not diminished with time and with the education of the greater population, this story leaves me enraged and saddened. Greater change is needed. More support is needed for the survivors.

 

Michelle Wright’s To Call Things By Their Name transported me to a time and place that is firmly implanted in my memory, a time when we worked overseas– in Sri Lanka. And though we lived in Colombo in the mid 1990’s, a time of turmoil and domestic terrorism, the landscape – physical, economical and hierarchical had not changed a great deal from that in this narrative –perhaps the cities were bigger, the traffic more congested, the towns more populated but traditions and values largely unchanged. Again a different time but such a familiar story.

 

Carol McDowall, the winner of the Southwest Prize injected lightness and humour into this collection with her short story, Bringing Home the Ashes (which, by the way is not about cricket). Hope and a feeling of solidarity came from others in this collection.

 

This collection of short stores will touch you and certainly make you think and that I think is the strength of the short story – the ability to evoke feelings, memories and responses and perhaps more questions?

 

 

 

 

Over 20,000 kms and Now We Are On The Way Home

It has been an epic journey but now we are on our way home (actually have been heading homewards for a few weeks). Tomorrow we start the long drive across the Nullarbor Plains – about 2000km which will bring us across the South Australian border into Western Australia. I hope to be able to share with you some finals photos of the spectacular “treeless plains”.

Once back in Western Australia we will spend some time with our youngest daughter, some time with my mum and then make our way back to Cowaramup to our eldest daughter who is housesitting for us (which has given us great peace of mind allowing us to spend 7 months away from home without having to worry about the house) – thanks Angela. Looking forward to seeing you all. Bob says hello and he will see you all soon too 🙂