Cultural fiction fresh from Australia.
This week’s book was a refreshing change from last week’s read. I absolutely fell in love with this story and the incredible research and respect that went into making it. Though this isn’t an own voices book, PJ Whittlesea went to great lengths to treat the people in his story with deference. Obviously, I’m totally recommending this book. (Also, I’ve included affiliate links after this point that help support my blog.)
Loreless, by PJ Whittlsea, was a pleasure to read. The narrative follows Billy, a man of Australian indigenous decent raised in the city with no knowledge of his family’s traditional beliefs, as he gets lost in the desert only to find his true home. Written in third person, the structure of the novel interleaves Billy’s present experience with those of his ancestors. The ancestor chapters are presented chronologically starting with the most recent and working their way back. The interplay between the past and present chapters is haunting and lovely.
This story does contain a rape scene. But, Whittlesea handles it with incredible care, respect, and a sense of justice for the victim. It isn’t another case of highly-detailed shock-value sexual violence for male gratification. Instead, this scene demonstrates the devastating effects of colonialism.
If you’re coming to this book from the action/adventure frame of mind, you may find it lacking. This story doesn’t punch through bad guys to win the ultimate prize. It’s more meditative. Billy doesn’t run out and seize the day. Instead, the world flows toward him, and he picks which way to turn. He doesn’t actively change his world so much as reacts to it. Though Billy is the main character, it’s his ancestral past that acts on him, shaping him, protecting him, guiding him. I think this is lovely but recognize it may not be for everyone.
There’s one minor writing flaw in this book which popped out at me. Some passages lacked variation in sentence structure. I came across several instances of 8 or 9 sentences in a row that started with the word “He.” This made the rhythm feel a little weird sometimes. However, it’s a small issue that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this book.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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