Hachette Australia, $29.99 pb, 284 pp, 9780733632013
Silvia Kwon’s début novel explores the legacy of war on an Australian family, seen mainly through the eyes of the wife of a returned soldier. The prologue comprises a vivid and disturbing flashback to Burma in 1944, where Merna’s husband Frank spent time ‘on the line’.
Although narrated in the third person, this is Merna’s story, told from the point of view of a wife torn between the conflicting needs of husband and son. Back on the farm in the 1960s in the Wimmera, against a backdrop of endless drought, Frank struggles to keep afloat, while his son sets his sights on a distant land of opportunity, Japan. Merna takes on the role of peacemaker in a battle between the two men, whose opposing outlooks provide the novel’s source of conflict.