Australia Day is a collection of stories by debut author Melanie Cheng. The people she writes about are young, old, rich, poor, married, widowed, Chinese, Lebanese, Christian, Muslim. What they have in common—no matter where they come from—is the desire we all share to feel that we belong. The stories explore universal themes of love, loss, family and identity, while at the same time asking crucial questions about the possibility of human connection in a globalised world.
Melanie Cheng is an important new voice, offering a fresh perspective on contemporary Australia. Her effortless, unpretentious realism balances an insider’s sensitivity and understanding with an outsider’s clear-eyed objectivity, showing us a version of ourselves richer and more multifaceted than anything we’ve seen before.
‘Melanie Cheng is an astonishingly deft and incisive writer. With economy and elegance, she creates a dazzling mosaic of contemporary life, of how we live now. Hers is a compelling new voice in Australian literature.’
‘What a wonderful book, a book with bite. These stories have a real edge to them. They are complex without being contrived, humanising, but never sentimental or cloying—and, ultimately, very moving.’
‘If only the PM might pick up a copy, even by mistake.’
‘A wonderful feat of storytelling…Melanie Cheng is an exciting new writer.’
‘The happy surprise of Cheng’s work as a collection lies in her resolute grasp of the absolute normalcy of a culture that not so many years ago was divided and dually suspicious. The census gives us the facts but it takes fiction to make reality three-dimensional.’
‘The author’s empathetic eye and easy facility with dialogue make the anthology a strong debut, with the longer stories in particular offering breadth and depth…It feels like Cheng has taken a wide sample from the census to craft this inclusive portrait of contemporary Australia.’
’The book bears witness to the author’s empathetic eye, multicultural characterisation and easy facility with dialogue…This short story collection explores what it means to belong, to be Australian; its insight from different vantage points and its photo-realistic narrative make it an exciting and impressive debut.’
‘The stories are unpretentious, diverse, and a lot of the time, disconcertingly real. Cheng’s characters are just as well realised; they live on in your head long after you’ve put her book down.’