What We’re Reading: April

Thanks for Having Me by Emma Darragh

Three women narrate Thanks for Having Me: Mary Anne, who gave birth to Vivian, who gave birth to Evie. Darragh’s portrait of motherhood does not focus on the romantic, sacred, feminine things that society valorizes. Instead, in alternating vignettes that jump across time and character, she holds up the seamy, unpleasant and shameful moments in these women’s lives to the light. At turns funny, shocking and moving, as we start to fit the pieces together a complete — if damaged — picture emerges of a family trying to repair the mistakes of the past. I’m still processing this one but Darragh’s writing is extremely assured and her grasp of character is impressive. 

Dirt Poor Islanders by Winnie Dunn

Winnie Dunn has been involved with the writing group Sweatshop in Western Sydney for some time and has now published her first novel, which happens to be the first (and only) representation of Tongan culture outside of Chris Lilley’s blackface parody in the early 2000s. Meadow Reed is half-Tongan, half-white, and growing up on the outside of society. Her world is all about family, but her family have very limited resources besides love — and even that seems scarce at times. Based on Dunn’s own childhood, Dirt Poor Islanders is a sometimes brutal, often tender look at what it means to live between two cultures, as Meadow comes to embrace all the parts of her.

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

An epic in every sense of the word–Age of Vice explores wealth and corruption in India’s elite through the eyes of ‘less than poor’ Ajay. The novel follows his trajectory from growing up in slums to becoming an assistant and friend to the son of the richest man in India. His loyalty to the family is unquestionable until the web of lies and criminal cover-ups reach the point of no return. Kapoor pieces together a rich portrait of India that sustains itself through it’s 500+ pages and has you rooting for Ajay through every one of them.