This book is in the Cambria Australian Literature Series, headed by Dr. Susan Lever.
This book will be launched at the upcoming 2016 Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference hosted by UNSW Canberra at ADFA.
The following are excerpts from the new book.
From the introduction:
“This oppositional stance—in relation to the Church, and in relation to the nation and the colonialism on which it was founded—fed into Astley’s critique of other social institutions and practices. Her work is driven by a moral revulsion against greed and corruption, against class prejudice and the cruelties practiced on social outsiders, against the racism of colonial dispossession and exploitation of Indigenous people, and against the presumption of male superiority and the physical and psychic violence practiced against women.”
From Chapter 3:
“By the time she published Beachmasters, in 1986, Astley had developed a political perspective on colonialism that allowed her to move beyond disillusionment with human relationships structured by marriage, or human relationship to the divine as structured by the Church, to a critique of the structures themselves. This novel takes colonialism as its subject, rather than assuming its presence, and depicts expatriates and indigenous people inhabiting the same socio-political space, drawing out the complications of hapkas familial and cultural identity. Such a perspective on power structures, as we shall see in later chapters, comes to inform her representation of gender and sexual relations as well as colonial race relations, providing a strong intellectual foundation for her intensely imagined fictions.”
From Chapter 7:
“With Drylands, her final novel, Astley returns to the present day and a setting in a small north Queensland inland town of that name. […]The stories are framed by the narrative of Janet Deakin (a name suggesting she is a descendant of one of Australia’s founding fathers, Alfred Deakin) […] The stories, including Janet’s own, are all tales of violence, of behavior which ranges from the verbal sneers that Janet suffers, through to domestic violence and attempted rape. Another woman is victim not to violence but to domestic servitude to her husband and six sons. In this book, Astley’s feisty feminist barbs at marriage as an institution of male privilege and female slavery recur (‘Is it a boy or a drudge?’ asks Janet’s mother when she is born, 103) but the predominant theme is masculine violence.”
Buy The Fiction of Thea Astley on Amazon.