Every Secret Thing
University of Queensland Press, $24.95 pb, 181 pp
From its opening line – ‘It had been a shit of a day for Sister Annunciata and Sister Clavie’ – Marie Munkara’s collection of stories about life on an island mission in northern Australia is a raw, hilarious and penetrating chronicle. The two nuns stare at the sky waiting for the bishop. His plane overshoots the airstrip and lands with a ‘resounding crump’. It is as if the bishop – ‘his Most Handsome and his Most Distinguished’ or ‘his Most Sleazy’, depending on which nun you ask – represents wave after wave of invasion. Apart from God and His earthly representatives, the islanders over the years also confront an anthropologist, Indonesians, a naked French couple, Spanish workers, marijuana, rum, the flu and even John Wayne.