A Jealous Tide
Splice, $34.99 hb, 224 pp
Rivers seem to be something of a preoccupation for Melbourne writer Anna MacDonald. They feature prominently in her 2019 essay collection, Between the Word and the World, and are both setting and centrepiece to her first novel, A Jealous Tide.
For MacDonald, rivers – whether London’s Thames or her beloved Yarra – are so much more than a way to navigate a city. They are also an invitation to see: to look beyond the murky surface and sound out the depths; to see the world as it is rather than simply how it appears. To travel a river, she says, quoting German writer Esther Kinsky in Between the Word and the World, is to relinquish oneself to a ‘restless, transient land’; a border zone that conjures up ‘dislocation, confusion and unpredictability in a world that crave[s] order’. Far from being places of peace, rivers are dangerous territory where it is easy to become unmoored and lost.