By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Griffith Review34: The Annual Fiction Edition
Edited by Julianne Schultz (Text Publishing, $27.95, soft cover, 226 pages)
Griffith Review34 is short fiction writing at its finest. This time round, the
third annual fiction collection explores islands, both geographical and personal.
After writers were asked to ‘consider the idea of islands – physical and metaphorical’, it’s not surprising that many of the stories consider isolation and separation, with a natural progression of desertion and demise.
Even though the collection is infused with depression, fortunately it absorbs rather than disaffects.
Discover new stories from award-winning and critically acclaimed authors such as Georgia Blain, Craig Cliff, Chris Womersley, Melissa Lucashenko, Jospehine Rowe, Ashley Hay and Benjamin Law; plus young writers who have made a mark this year including Favel Parrett, Rachael S Morgan, Nicolas Low, Romy Ash and Sally Breen; poetry from Thomas Shapcott, Kathleen Bleakley, Margaret Merrilees and WH Chong; and many more.
Georgia Blain’s Enlarged + Heart + Child is a forceful account of the fear felt by a parent whose child is in hospital; and testimony to the power of suggestion is Josephine Rowe’s The tank, which is a character-driven deliberation of emotional estrangement.
There are also brighter, more literal examinations of the islands with the Pacific featuring regularly, together with issues of native land titles. Then there are some humorous stories like The Big One-Eyed Dork by newcomer Kate Lahey that provides some necessary cheerfulness.
The accompanying poetry and memoir also refresh. Offshore Service by Craig Cliff gives a clever theoretical interpretation of the theme where coal ships, stranded off-coast are the temporary islands in focus.
As well, there are stories that appear to be strained, twisted out of shape to accommodate this directive. One example is No man is an Island by Favel Parrett, an adroitly constructed narrative of a child’s death.
While this edition is of high literary significance, the skill and inventiveness make up for the imbalance in not having more stories from new and emerging authors.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.