Edenglassie is the seventh novel by acclaimed Bunjalung novelist Melissa Lucashenko. Set in a brief historical window – a little-known interim of time and place after transportation of convicts had ended but before Queensland became an independent colony in 1859 – this narrative moves seamlessly between what whitefellas might call past, present, and near future. In this interface, Lucashenko creates characters that cause the reader to not only ask – what if? but also where to now?
A stranger rides into a one-horse town on a shiny new motorbike. Cue Ennio Morricone music. Except it’s not a stranger, it’s that skinny dark girl Kerry Salter, back to say goodbye to her Pop before he falls off the perch. The first conversation she has is in the Bundjalung language ...
Mullumbimby is a humorous, heartfelt, occasionally abrasive and brave work by a writer with an acute ear for language, an eye for subtle beauty, and a nose honed to sniff bullshit at a thousand paces. A sculptural work, produced by the author and photographed for the cover of the novel, is a bird’s nest, crafted from twigs, various grasses, and earth. It conveys a sense of sanctuary and genuine protection (as opposed to the institutional and violent ‘protection’ Indigenous people have been subject to throughout colonial occupation). But look a little closer at the image and you will notice that the nest is woven into a thorny crown of rusting barbed wire; a simple but effective invention that for the past one hundred and fifty years has maimed, ensnared, and enclosed animals, people, and land.
In the list of life’s most stressful events, family breakups and moving home are way up there in the top ten, and one often follows the other, compounding the trauma. This is the situation for eleven-year-old Rain in Catherine Bateson’s Rain May and Captain Daniel, when her mother, Maggie, sells their inner-city house in the aftermath of divorce. They head for the country to turn Grandma’s deceased estate into a dream home. Maggie’s hopes are higher than her daughter’s: she foresees serenity, harmony, and self-sufficiency; Rain expects ‘Boringsville’.
I am sitting at my home desk high up in the mountains overlooking the border ranges to New South Wales and then to the left, the strip of highrise, the Gold Coast, and the sea beyond. Hathorn and Lucashenko have both set their recent youth novels in an imaginary location not far from me. The sea and the hinterland is a territory I am beginning to know well and I have enjoyed exploring it a little further in my reading.