Root & Branch (Eda Gunaydin, NewSouth)
Root & Branch is the debut essay collection from Eda Gunaydin, Turkish-Australian scholar and writer of academic and creative nonfiction. It examines with spectacular tenacity and wit the real-world impacts that class, race, gender and capitalism have on the everyday experience of contemporary Australians, particularly those living in Sydney’s inner-west and western suburbs. Each essay draws on Gunaydin’s expertise in post-disciplinary and post-colonial studies, and her experience of growing up in Australia as a second-generation Turkish immigrant dealing with emotional abuse, complex trauma and other mental health issues. In ‘Dogdugun Yer, Dogdugun Yer’ Gunaydin explores the difference between a home versus a homeland, while in ‘Shit-eating’ she deconstructs the class politics of modern ‘brunch’ culture. Underpinning many of these essays is Gunaydin’s troubled relationship with her emotionally abusive and hypochondriac mother, of which she reveals much, but not all. ‘Tell-all’ explores the current culture of ‘mindless’ confessionalism, boldly questioning the author’s own impulse to ‘make disclosures, endlessly’. Gunaydin is a gifted essayist driven by an honest desire to see society transformed, ‘to alter the conditions of everyday existence, so that there’s nothing that we need to be saved from’. Gunaydin’s ability to combine a searing intellect with wit and ingenuity is breathtaking. Readers of Ellena Savage and Maria Tumarkin will relish this magnificent collection.
Jacqui Davies is a freelance writer and reviewer based in South Australia.