Need an escape? We hear you. Here are the latest books, podcasts, audiobooks and TV shows for you to get stuck into thanks to our partnership with Scribd. This week, we’re highlighting Alice Pung’s first adult novel ‘One Hundred Days’, Miranda Riwoe’s ‘Stone Sky Gold Mountain’, and returning to an old treasure, Growing up Aboriginal in Australia, an anthology, edited by Anita Heiss.
Alice Pung – One Hundred Days
I started reading Alice Pung when I was a teenager growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney. Her memoir, Unpolished Gem, spoke to me like nothing I’d ever read. It was the first time I saw myself on the pages of a book – a powerful moment that would affect the next decade of my life.
This year, she has released her first adult fiction, titled ‘One Hundred Days’, a story set in 1987 that explores the complex relationship between mother and daughter.
The novel follows the story of Karuna, a Chinese-Filipino teenager who finds herself trapped in a commission flat in Melbourne by her mother after she falls pregnant.
As a baby grows inside her, Karuna fights her mother and herself for a sense of power in her own life.
The mother-daughter drama deftly explores the fault-lines between love and control in our closest relationships. “Your mother may not know how to love you the best. But she loves you the most,” the character’s mother, Kien, declares to the teenager.
The prose is tense and claustrophobic, swollen with humour, warmth and character. It took Pung four years to write this epic novel. Trust me, it’ll take you just a few days to tear through its bracing tale.
Read it here on Scribd. While you’re there, you can also read her memoir, Unpolished Gem, here.
Mirandi Riwoe – Stone Sky Gold Mountain
In Mirandi Riwoe’s novel, Stone Sky Gold Mountain, the Gold Rush-era of Australia is the backdrop that places siblings Ying and Lai Yue into a world of intrigue, crime and punishment.
Riwoe’s novel explores of race, language, privilege, class, exile and identity, while storytelling is done with lyric sensitivity and feminist sharpness.
Fleeing their home in China to seek their fortunes in Australia, Lai Yue gets a job as a carrier on an overland expedition, while Ying finds work in a local store and strikes up a friendship with Meriem, a young white woman with her own complicated past. The novel delves into the plight of Chinese labourers in Queensland and their interactions with other immigrants, Indigenous and First Nations people, and colonialists.
When a crime occurs, locals suspect Lai and Ying. Painting the rich, unfolding tapestry of Australian life in the late nineteenth century, Riwoe’s second novel is a story about the exiled and displaced, about those who encounter discrimination, while always yearning for acceptance.
Reading the book feels transcendental. Listening to it read aloud is a transformative experience.
The book has picked up several awards, including the Fiction book award at the 2020 Queensland Literary Awards, short-listed for the Stella Prize and long-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Listen to the audiobook here, on Scribd.
Anita Heiss – Growing up Aboriginal in Australia
In 2018, Award-winning author Anita Heiss compiled an anthology showcasing diverse voices, experiences and stories in their attempts to answer one big, important question: What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia?
Stories from well-known authors and high-profile individuals sit alongside people from newly discovered writers across all ages. The contributors speak from the heart – calling for empathy, challenging stereotypes, demanding respect. This groundbreaking anthology will enlighten, inspire and educate readers about the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today. It is an incredibly important read.
Listen to it here, on Scribd.
Never Have I Ever – Season 2 (Netflix)
There’s a unique and calming addiction I have as a thirty-something female watching stories about teenage girls navigating the tumultuous and deeply anxiety-inducing period that is adolescence. It’s a feeling of relief – of recognising how far you have come from those days of trying to shorten your skirt to impress the boys, and terrible acne and even more terrible fights with your sister, or mother, or best friend.
Last year, American actress, comedian, writer, producer and director, Mindy Kaling wrote her own show, Never Have I Ever, which centres the day to day life of Devi Vishwakumar, a first-generation Indian-American teenager who wants to improve her status at school, while friends, family, and feelings don’t make this plight very smooth.
Accompanied by her hilarious and complex and insanely adorable best friends, Eleanor and Fabiola, the central character is absolutely identifiable — no matter what kind of girl you were in high school. We were all awkward. We were all filled with anxiety.
The second season landed a few weeks ago, and it is incredibly and dangerously binge-able. Watch it now on Netflix.