I am not really a reader of short stories as I love getting lost in a ‘big’ story and getting to know the story characters more deeply but as I was to interview Melanie at the Booklovers Festival ‘Permission to Write’ session I needed to read them with the thought of discussion in mind. And surprising myself, I really enjoyed both the stories and the short story format.
These stories are written with a common theme of wanting to belong or even a deeper question ‘Do I matter?’ From the title story Australia Day, detailing a typical rural Australia Day barbeque from the eyes of a Hong Kong International student, Stanley, in love with the daughter of the family, to Macca, a story regarding an alcoholic and an overworked doctor in a health centre and ending with A Good and Pleasant Thing, the story of a Chinese grandmother, Mrs Chan, feeling left out of the family and more isolated as English becomes the normal family language with her grandchildren, all showcase a diverse Australia struggling with isolation, overworked public system, challenging community norms and simply being a part of a family, a community or a nation.
Melanie Cheng is a GP and she wrote these stories over a long period of time yet she was able to put them together as a lovely compilation.
I definitely recommend it and I downloaded the eCopy from the Overdrive app Libby and the experience was easy, once I worked out that I could choose my loan period. So my message as always is to challenge your reading habits and get out of your comfort zones as you might find your tastes have changed.