A Room Called Earth (Madeleine Ryan, Scribe)
In the light of a full moon on a sweltering December night—Christmas Eve eve—a nameless young woman drapes herself in a silk kimono and goes to a party, alone. Singularly attuned to the rhythms and complexities of the night, of other people, of the energy of the world around her, her unwavering perspective carries the reader through the events of the evening: the places she inhabits, the experiences she has and the people she meets. When a man spills a drink on her shoes, a connection deep and profound is born. The dynamic of first attraction, both intellectual and sexual, is nicely rendered in all its awkward grace as the narrator takes the man back to her home. A Room Called Earth is intoxicating: a heady rush of sensuality and passion. The novel is challenging at first: the reader must acclimatise to spending so much time entirely in the head and perspective of this unique and dynamic narrator. But as the narrative and prose find their rhythm, A Room Called Earth becomes a rich pleasure: lyrical, sumptuous and saturated with insight. As a debut novel, A Room Called Earth is enigmatic and entirely refreshing. Madeleine Ryan is a writer to watch.
Georgia Brough is a bookseller, critic and writer based in Melbourne.