Winner of the 2019 Miles Franklin Award.
This is Lucashenko’s sixth novel and she has won a number of awards and nominations for her fiction so you can be assured the writing will be top notch. And it is. Fast paced, authentic, and grass roots this novel portrays a gritty realistic view of small town Australia and the hard edges of the lives of the Aboriginal communities who live in them.
Kerry Salter roars into town, the imaginary Durrongo, on a stolen Harley, defiant, in your face and incredibly, darkly funny she gives the finger to the dogged inbred racism evident in the town. There to visit the dying grandfather, an admired Aboriginal community leader, both loved and feared by his family.
Violence is at the heart of this novel. Violence generated by racism, family violence that breeds more family violence, and men’s violence bred by deep unresolved anger.
Lucashenko delivers an unflinching look at the lives of families who are affected by alcohol, dispossession of their land and the casual nature that generations of systematic racism allows communities to accept as normal. Yet, her characters are funny, hopeful, resilient and accepting of mistakes.
Colonial history, family struggle and family myths are all challenged in Kerry’s view of her family and herself. Land is at the centre of the dispute in this community, power is in the hands of the Mayor, the local politics is dirty, and the police are not neutral.
What I liked about this is the grittiness of the characters who have to face and own their history and its consequences, the tale of family and those who escape only to know they need to come home, the humour evident in the ‘up yours’ view of Kerry Salter who has always been told she has too much lip, and the insight into the lives that exist on the hard edges of Australian towns.
I did struggle with some of the slang in the novel but you can get the sense of the meaning of the words throughout the writing and the ‘Australian’ nature of the story really resonated with me. What comes through in this novel is the power of pride in who you are and who your people are, regardless of how others see you. Know your culture and be proud, know your country and build a strong connection to it and build a sense of belonging to your family are key themes in this novel that come through strongly.
The story follows Kerry and her at odds family taking on the Mayor to save Granny Ava’s island from development for the purpose of a prison and all the challenges, family truths and crimes that ensue.
It won the 2019 Miles Franklin Award for a very good reason – it is definitely a recommended read.
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Find Melissa's website here.
Too Much Lip (eBook)