Her (Garry Disher, Hachette)
Well-known crime writer Garry Disher has delivered a slower, more intimate read with Her, a novel that spans 10 years, from 1909 to 1919, set in outback Australia. Her is told from the perspective of You, a young girl who is bought for less than 10 shillings by a scrap man. You becomes part of the man’s travelling ‘family’ and, along with Wife and Big Girl, leads an uncertain existence, scavenging for food, money and affection, always on the move, often barely surviving hunger and beatings. You’s constant thoughts of escape are stymied by the love she feels for her Sister, while world events—war and influenza—barely register until they become impossible to ignore. The language in this bleak-yet-striking novel is both lyrical and matter of fact; life and death are dealt with even-handedly and the small moments of beauty are thrown into sharp relief by this intimate portrayal of drudgery and hardship. Disher contrasts You’s inner landscape with economical passages on the wild and savage Australian outback. Lovers of Australian stories and internal perspectives will enjoy this book, as will fans of Disher’s lyrical prose.
Justine Hanna is a librarian and one half of the Dear Reader podcast