Daughter of Bad Times (Rohan Wilson, A&U)
Vogel Award-winning novelist Rohan Wilson is back with another gripping page-turner, this time in the form of a dystopian tale set 50 years in the future. Sea levels have risen, leaving entire cities destroyed, and Mauritian philosopher Yamaan finds himself stateless at a camp in Sri Lanka, until Australia swoops in, promising a chance at a new beginning. At Eaglehawk Migrant Training Centre refugees are made to do menial labour that is ostensibly a trade-off for a shot at freedom—except there doesn’t seem to be an end to the work. The facility is run by Cabey-Yasuda, a private prison company owned by the mother of Yamaan’s lover Rin. While Rin tries to set Yamaan free, conundrums present themselves at every turn, and Japanese adoptee Rin’s past is not as straightforward as she thinks. Within Wilson’s arresting prose lies a commentary on globalisation, capitalism and class that’s reminiscent of William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and P D James’ The Children of Men. Daughter of Bad Times is compelling speculative fiction crafted out of today’s reality—a love story that’s also an unflinching look at the treatment of asylum seekers in our present time, especially as borders blur yet tighten.
Cher Tan is a Melbourne-based writer