Sally Magnusson’s debut novel provides a fascinating insight into a period when not only Iceland, but many other parts of Europe, were beset by slavery of and by both Muslims and Christians alike. But, interesting as that is, the strength for me of The Sealwoman’s Gift lies in its exploration of the wider psychological territory of the human response to unbearable trauma and loss.
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s debut, House of Stone, is a cuckoo-in-the-nest narrative that provides the framework for an account of the traumatic history of Zimbabwe from colonialism, through liberation war, to a covered-up genocide of members of the Ndebele minority in the early years of independence.
Jott by Sam Thompson is an intelligent and engaging novel inspired by the author’s grandfather, a psychiatrist and lifelong friend of Samuel Beckett who helped the latter research his first novel by taking him onto the wards. Beckett aficionados will find much delight in the novel’s meta-fictions, but I admired it particularly for the themes of failure, psychoanalysis and psychiatric hospital care.
With its sympathetic, but deeply flawed and wounded characters, Extinctions by Josephine Wilson brings a refreshing honesty to family tragedy in a manner that’s somehow gloriously uplifting. This is also the story of the tragedy of the Australian nation, built on a white invasion that almost saw the extinction of the Aboriginal blacks.
I also thought I’d slip in a couple of guest post from the tail end of the recent blog tour launching my short story collection which I don’t think I’ve yet shared on Annecdotal, plus another success at the Flash Fiction Rodeo. For more details, click on the relevant image.
The first is a guest post at the Counsellors' Cafe where, instead of my usual features on fictional therapists, I've written about my own journey through psychology, therapy and fiction.
To the rescue
Cold cruel enough to cut the breath from me. Waves roar loud enough to drown out other sounds. It took a fool to dive in after her. It’ll take a hero to ferry her to shore.
Hair and beard turn to icicles. Arms to cartwheels, legs to flippers, brain to military command. Kick harder! Plough faster! Fight off lakebed vegetation, fear and fatigue!
I’ve almost reached her when a tether takes my ankle. I yank it back. It reins me in. I’m swallowing water when I grab her wrist. How will history judge me: a hero or a fool?