Compelling from start to finish, The Healing Party is a mature and illuminating account of the complex ties of family. Micheline Lee's début novel follows Natasha Chan who, after years of estrangement from her family, receives news of her mother's terminal cancer. Natasha leaves her life in Darwin and returns to the family home in Melbourne. Here, the Chans – who became born-again Charismatic Christians when Natasha was a child – speak in tongues, give prophecies, and evangelise. Paul Chan, the domineering yet charming head of the family, announces that he has received a message from God: his wife is to be healed and they must hold a party to celebrate. Terrified of disappointing her father but recognising his manipulation, Natasha swings between feelings of rage, pity, guilt, and self-doubt.
Naama Grey-Smith is an editor, publisher and critic based in Fremantle, Western Australia. She has edited award-winning fiction and non-fiction, and was among the initiators of creative journal dotdotdash. Her enduring interests are language, memory and place.
From the New Issue
The Bird Way: A new look at how birds talk, work, play, parent, and think by Jennifer AckermanReviewed by Simon Caterson
Lettersby Ian Campbell, Nicholas Jose, Ben Brooker, Alex Miller, Judith Masters, Roger Rees, Kim Harris, James Ley