Jane Sullivan reviews 'The Other Side of the World' by Stephanie Bishop

Jane Sullivan reviews 'The Other Side of the World' by Stephanie Bishop

The Other Side of the World

by Stephanie Bishop

Hachette, $29.99 pb, 352 pp, 9780733633782

One of the most potent stories we can tell is a story of migration. With the exception of indigenous people, every Australian originally came from somewhere else. Take just one source: the emigrants from England. Kate Grenville writes about her convict and settler ancestry in her Secret River trilogy; in The Golden Age, Joan London writes of European refugees in Perth in the 1950s, a time she can remember as a child; and now a much younger writer, Stephanie Bishop (the subject of this month’s Future Tense), takes as her theme a ‘ten-pound Pom’ migration in the 1960s, in a story based on the memories and experiences of her grandparents.

What these stories have in common is a sense of the other side of the world as ambiguous, unsettling, even alienating. You can so easily escape one set of problems only to be confronted with a new set – or the same old problems in a different guise. And when a couple or a family makes the move, the experience can tug at each individual in radically different ways, putting new strains on the relationship.

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Jane Sullivan

Jane Sullivan

Jane Sullivan has been a print journalist in Britain and Australia for more than forty years. Her column about books and writing, ‘Turning Pages’, appears every Saturday in The Age. Her latest novel is Little People (2011).

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