Johanna Leggatt reviews 'Australia Day' by Melanie Cheng

Johanna Leggatt reviews 'Australia Day' by Melanie Cheng

Australia Day

by Melanie Cheng

Text Publishing, $29.99 pb, 272 pp, 9781925498592

The characters in Melanie Cheng’s collection of short stories are all outsiders or misfits in some way. Some feel conspicuously out of place, such as the Lebanese immigrant Maha, in ‘Toy Town’, who is struggling with suburban Australian life, or the Chinese medical student Stanley, who is visiting the family farm of a friend in the titular story. Stanley freezes when he is asked at dinner to nominate his AFL team: he has never watched a game of football in his life. Other characters feel isolated owing to their beliefs or temperament.

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Johanna Leggatt

Johanna Leggatt

Johanna Leggatt is a Melbourne-based writer and journalist. She has a master of arts from the University of Queensland and was a former online health editor on London’s The Daily Telegraph and sub-editor on The Guardian. She has also previously reported on court cases for Australian Associated Press (AAP) and was a news and features journalist on The Sun-Herald in Sydney.