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By the winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, 2018.
Since her sister died, Meg has been on her own. She doesn’t mind, not really—not with Atticus, her African grey parrot, to keep her company—but after her house is broken into by a knife-wielding intruder, she decides it might be good to have some company after all.
Andy’s father has lost his job, and his parents’ savings are barely enough to cover his tuition. If he wants to graduate, he’ll have to give up his student flat and find a homeshare. Living with an elderly Australian woman is harder than he’d expected, though, and soon he’s struggling with more than his studies.
Melanie Cheng is a writer and general practitioner. She was born in Adelaide, grew up in Hong Kong and now lives in Melbourne. Her debut collection of short stories, Australia Day, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2016 and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction in 2018. Room for a Stranger is her first novel.
INTERVIEWS and REVIEWS
ABC News: Best winter reads of 2019
ABC Radio Melbourne: Afternoons (1:07:00)
ABC Melbourne: The Friday Revue
ABC Radio National: The Book Show
2SER: Final Draft
3RRR: Backstory (0:15:00)
Books + Publishing
Domain.com.au Book Club
Guardian: Bookmark This
Harper’s Bazaar: 15 Books to Devour This Winter
Homeshare Australia & NZ Alliance
Kill Your Darlings
Kill Your Darlings podcast
Melbourne Writers Festival podcast
Overland: July in Fiction
Sydney Morning Herald
Weekend Australian ($)
Wheeler Centre: Double Booked Club (YouTube video – autoplay)
‘Melanie Cheng is doing the most difficult, most unfashionable thing: writing about the ordinary lives of ordinary people. Her accomplishment is catching the tremors of their uniqueness and, by underlining this, insisting that everyone is interesting. Being human is in itself extraordinary…This is an impressive and quietly significant book.’
‘My god, this was a joy to read. Every year there’s an Australian novel everyone endlessly passes around and recommends because they bloody love it so much, and this is going to be 2019’s. Room for a Stranger explores the high stakes of quiet moments, reveals the beauty of unlikely connections and shows how the antidote to shame is always compassion. After reading this impossible-to-put-down novel, Melanie Cheng is quickly becoming my favourite Australian writer.’
‘[Room for a Stranger] is beautifully done. Melanie Cheng’s unaffected wisdom is just delightful. You never feel she has an axe to grind or an agenda to push. She may not set out to change the world but the warmth of her affection for lonely people will help to do just that.’