There is a moment in ‘The Skit’ – the second in a collection of sixteen short stories by Indian-Australian author Roanna Gonsalves – when the writer protagonist, upon reading her work to a group of her peers (‘the Bombay gang’, as she describes them, ‘still on student visas, still drinking out of second-hand glasses from Vinnies, and eating off melamine plates while waiting and waiting for their applications for permanent residency to be processed’), is met with the incorrect assumption that her writing is autobiographical. This early on in The Permanent Resident – Gonsalves’s début book, though by no means her first reflection on migrant identities in Australia – it feels like a surreptitious wink from the author, whose voice hums sotto voce beneath a chorus of characters seldom represented (at least not so intricately) in twenty-first century Australian literature.
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