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Kabita Dhara

Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland & The Cobbler's Apprentice by Sandy McCutcheon

December 2006–January 2007, no. 287

Adrian Hyland spent many years living and working among indigenous people in the Northern Territory. His affection for and affinity with the people and the country are immediately evident. But whatever possessed him, in his first novel, to write in the voice of a young, half-Aboriginal woman? It is a testament to his skill and finely balanced writing that more has not been made of this fact, and that the reception to his novel has been mostly positive.

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Longing is the central player in these interlinked short stories, set in India and Australia. Liz Gallois’s characters are questing individuals, resisting the hand that life has dealt them. They negotiate relationships that are fraught with tension – sexual, racial, cultural – all affected by the frailty of their understanding of who they are and what they want.

Western writing that uses India and Indians as counterpoints often veers towards exoticism, but there is a refreshing lack of sentimentality and stereotypes in Gallois’ stories. An individual and confident voice, she often challenges assumptions, sometimes distorting the lens through which the West views ‘India’.

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