The Lucky Galah (Tracy Sorensen, Picador)
It is testament to debut author Tracy Sorensen’s talent that, against all odds, choosing to have a galah narrate her novel never becomes gimmicky. Somehow the reader suspends disbelief and embraces Lucky, a quirky cocky who can receive messages from the decommissioned satellite dish in her red-dusted town in northern Western Australia. Lucky looks back from her present in 2000, with Cyclone Steve looming, to the years from 1964 to 1969, when the town was abuzz with preparations for the moon landing, and social upheaval was imminent. Lucky tells the story of several characters, but principally focuses on Evan and Linda Johnson, the latter a young woman who yearns for more than her married life offers after striving for a kind of ‘normality’ that Sorensen is explicitly questioning in this book. The novel also engages with Australian social history over the period, with Sorenson directly referencing Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country, published the same year Lucky’s narrative begins. All of this—the literary references, the exploration of social history and the narrating galah—is done with a deft touch so that the characters come to life as vividly as the ideas. This clever and enjoyable book will appeal to a broad range of readers.
Lorien Kaye is a freelance writer and editor, who has been writing about books and the book industry for over 20 years