Saudade (Suneeta Peres da Costa, Giramondo)
Sydney author Suneeta Peres da Costa’s novella Saudade will leave you feeling lost and homesick for a place of your own. Set in Angola’s fraught pre-independence period, Saudade follows Maria, a young girl from a Goan immigrant family, growing up in a political hierarchy of racism and colonialism in which she is both complicit but also othered. Quiet, observant Maria learns how people lie and how rules can apply differently; watching but not always engaging. She struggles to relate to her mother and other family members, aware she doesn’t share their values and concerns. Every character in this novel is adrift, searching for home, and Peres Da Costa deftly explores racism, colourism, domestic violence, death, propaganda, sexual harassment and exile. In middle class, protected Maria, Peres Da Costa paints a vivid picture of a young girl’s internal world and shows us how precarious, damaging and lonely an othered existence can be. Saudade is a beautifully-written, enlightening read from the author of the 1999 novel Homework, and will appeal to young adults and adults with diasporic backgrounds or those keen to learn more about those experiences.
Marisa Wikramanayake is an author, editor and journalist