Picador, $29.99 pb, 380 pp, 9781742612157
Few first novelists are as assured and articulate as Felicity Volk. She has designed an elemental structure for her story: wind, fire, earth, and water each have a section. Her time frame goes centuries deep, naming ancestors who, in the style of Genesis, begat and begat seven generations, until they reach Persia, an Australian with Arab, European, and British heritage. A thirty-something pathologist, Persia is a modern product of multiculturalism and globalisation, as is the Australian society she encounters on her drive from Canberra to Alice Springs. Her forebears were participants in similar processes.