Review: In short, two fascinating perspectives on life

Two writers. Two excellent, contrasting, collections of short fiction both, in their way, exposing the
simple truths and glorious complexities of everyday of life.

First Helen Garner, one of Australia’s most under-stated yet wise and clear-sighted writers has consistently held up an unwavering  mirror up to the country through more 13 books (including forensic studies of two highly publicised court cases), two plays and numerous magazine articles.  Stories Text Publishing) a collection of fiction, some of which dates back more than 20 years, has been released to coincide with her 75th birthday. It showcases her meticulous, pared back, observations on the magical and the mundane.  She has a glorious ear for the vernacular so mesmerising you can hear the conversations in your head as you read. Postcards from Surfers will resonate with anyone who has tried to bridge the gap between childhood holidays and the present. Stories is a partner to a volume of her non-fiction work.

 

Sour Heart (published by  Bloomsbury) by Jenny Zhang  brings together seven stories based on a group of former artists escaping persecution China and Taiwan and their lives as grindingly poor migrants in New York City. Seen through the eyes of a series of young female narrators every day is a struggle; to make ends meet; to escape the cloying embrace of a past they barely remember whilst clutching it like a safety blanket; to balance loyalty to family and tradition with their existence in the highly sexualised world of their peers. And, ultimately, to try and work out exactly where they really fit in to life. The stories are raw, often ribald, but also tender and moving.

Zhang, was born in Shanghai and raised in New York. She is an essayist and has previously published a book of poems, Dear Jenny We Are All Find. Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang is published by Penguin Random House

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