Take a look at what we’ve read in July – a middle grade First Nations story, a postmodern reimagining of a classic, a book told from a painting’s perspective and more!
Bindi by Kirli Saunders
Jane McCredie, CEO
Bindi is a charming and thought-provoking verse novel for children, written by Gunai writer Kirli Saunders with beautiful illustrations by Dub Leffler. Growing up on Gundungurra country, 11-year-old Bindi loves art, hockey and her horse, Nell. She doesn’t love maths. The poems incorporate Gundungurra language to build a lyrical description of childhood set against the backdrop of climate change and bushfires. Dedicated to “those who plant trees”, the book explores relationship to Country and learning from Elders alongside all the adventures of a pack of unruly kids.
Michelle Cahill’s Daisy & Woolf rethinks Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, giving voice to the minor Eurasian character of Daisy Simmons as seen through the eyes of Mina, a contemporary writer and academic, and the story’s narrator.
Daisy & Woolf is Cahill’s response to Woolf’s colonial gaze, challenging the unfulfilled story of Daisy who serves only to contrast with Mrs Dalloway. As an Anglo-Indian Australian, Mina tells the story of Daisy, with their lives running in parallel. They both wrestle with societal expectations of who they should be as wives and mothers and must reconcile this with their creative or personal desires. Like Mrs Dalloway, Daisy & Woolf examines gender, but explored within the context of race, class, and colonialism.
Like many, I love the classics, but challenging the literary canon and holding your favourite writers to account is a surprisingly satisfying exercise. I had the same experience reading Wide Sargasso Sea, and now love Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys in equal measure. Cahill’s poetic prose is an evocative, sensory delight. And like Rhys and Woolf, Cahill writes of the experiences of a writer struggling to write, which will no doubt be relatable to many of us.
Even though we’re only halfway through the year, Dirt Town is already a strong contender for my favourite book of 2022. I carried it with me everywhere, squeezing in a few extra pages whenever humanly possible.
On a sweltering summer afternoon in Durton, a remote Australian town, two 12-year-old girls leave school, but only one makes it home. Told from multiple perspectives, this book isn’t your average whodunnit crime novel. It is full of emotional depth, written so beautifully, and the characters are so well-developed. No stereotypes or plot-fillers here!
Dirt Town is one of those outback crime books that are so hot right now, but it actually lives up to the hype — not since Jane Harper’s The Dry have I felt so consumed by a book in this genre. Congrats to debut author Hayley Scrivenor!