Sunday, 6 November 2016

Black Rock White City by A.S. Patrić

"He could imagine how all this mixed in the hungry imagination of Tammie Ashford and worked closer to the bone, tearing open her anaesthetised layers of mind to get to a core of pulsing life, where she could feel something primal and actual."

Wow, this has to be one of the best books I have read this year. No wonder it won the 2016 Miles Franklin award, it is visceral and compelling stuff. Definitely not a relaxing beach read this strange concoction of trauma, death, love and lust wrapped around a kind of mystery tale thanks to the mysterious Dr Graffito, is a novel that should definitely be on your to be read pile (if you haven't already).

Jovan, once a poet in the former Yugoslavia, now works as a janitor in an Australian Hospital, where strange things are happening. Bodies desecrated with words, and meddled with eye charts are just some of the calling cards of Dr Graffito. Both Jovan and his wife's lives are in constant torment at the remembrance of the tragedy that befell their two young children and the  half life they are living is challenged by the immediacy of fresh horrors that come to the fore.

It took me a while to get past the first few pages as I was a little distracted and then BOOM, I could not put this one down.It was intriguingly set in Melbourne and there were a lot of familiar locales, indeed one character lived just off a street I used to live in. That being said, the feelings of despair it invokes could occur anywhere and that makes me feel that it is a novel that is relate-able to readers anywhere. It also feels rather topical in its humanisation of the trauma of displaced refugees attempting to build a life after war torn suffering and discovering that a peaceful place can be anything but.

5 out 5 a novel deserving of accolades.

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