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April 2, 2019


#Stella Prize 2019 shortlist Melissa Lucashenko

by N@ncy

Shortlisted books: 2/6  




  1. Kerry Salter returns to her hometown of Durrongo
  2. …to bid farewell to her dying grandfather.
  3. She becomes embroiled in
  4. …the dramas of her dysfunctional family.



  1. This book was  difficult to enter…
  2. ..narrative and  the characters.
  3.  The family relations were hard to sort out because there are so
  4. many people to keep track of!
  5. Great-grandparents (‘Chinky’ Joe, Gran Ava)
  6. Grandparents (Pop Joe, Granny Ruth)
  7. Mother-father (Pretty Mary and Charlie)
  8. Brothers-sisters   “Koala” Ken, Donna, “Black Superman”, Kerry
  9. Aunts, uncles, nephews and cousins…


Weak point: Book is not filled with richly crafted sentences.


Strong point:

  1. An emotional mood/tone  cannot be measured
  2. …but it can be spoken!
  3. The writer uses a specific choice of words
  4. slang (“truesgod!”)
  5. local phrases, (Norco butter, plate of hammer and onion)
  6. misspellings ( wanna,  granny is ‘ere ta help’)
  7. profane expressions
  8. …that you can imagine are in all the chapters!
  9. These word choices express the lifestyle, viewpoint and
  10. dysfunctionality of the Satler Aboriginal family.


Last Thoughts:

  1. Amid all the bizarre images, voices and actions
  2. in this book with some very complex characters
  3. we see passion, love and forgiveness in the Satler family.
  4. Language is the culture. (Aboriginal)
  5. If you lose your language you’ve lost your culture.
  6. Lucashenko manages to find a balance
  7. between emotions and language
  8. …that really impressed me!


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 3 2019

    Fascinating Nancy. I found this book engaging from the get-go, although I agree that you do have to work for a little while to get the characters and their relationships with each other down pat. What I loved was the writing – I didn’t have a problem with the sentences – and I loved the reality of it. These were fully rounded characters (except for Jim Buckley perhaps!) which I liked.


    • Apr 3 2019

      It takes me some time to immerse myself in the world of Aboriginals and their rich ancestry/mythology and the racism they endured.
      The title made me laugh even before I read the book! My mother used to say to me: “Don’t give me any of your lip!” So in chapter 2 the title emerged ” Too much lip, this little gin…”
      I didn’t know what gin is…but now I do! (slang Aboriginal woman)
      You learn something new every day!


      • Apr 4 2019

        Ah, I understand Nancy. She used indigenous words like dugai that I had to work out from context but the world want to hear for me to get into.

        Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist – read-a-thon! | NancyElin
  2. #NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist – read-a-thon! | NancyElin

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