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1987. The Philippine government fights a total war against insurgency. The village of Iraya is militarised. The days are violent and the nights heavy with fireflies in the river where the dead are dumped. With her twelve-metre hair, Estrella, the Fish-hair Woman, trawls corpses from the water that tastes of lemon-grass. She falls in love with the Australian Tony McIntyre who disappears in the conflict. Ten years later, his son travels to Manila to find his father. From the Philippines to Australia, Hawai’i, to evocations of colonial Spain, this transnational novel spins a dark, epic tale. Its storytelling is expansive, like the heart — How much can the heart accommodate? …Only four chambers but with infinite space like memory, where there is room even for those whom we do not love.
About the Author
Merlinda Bobis is a Filipino-Australian writer and performer. She has received various awards for her prose fiction, poetry, and plays, among them the Prix Italia, the Australian Writers’ Guild Award, and the Philippine National Book Award. Her books include “The Solemn Lantern Maker,” “Summer Was a Fast Train Without Terminals,” and “White Turtle.” She is also a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Wollongong in Australia.
This novel is a fairytale, a political allegory, and a philosophical interrogation of the human heart. Most everything has dried up: water, the womb, even the love among lovers. The earth is now mostly desert, except the last green haven behind the border where the carers of the earth preserve the natural order. Carers manage the earth’s last resources and keep the wasters out. But in the vast dry outside, hunger is the pernicious plague, and people feed on sand and locusts. So they walk the dry to cross the border. But once, terrible fires crossed it too and devastated the green haven. Since then, carers have been ever-more vigilant and afraid. One night, a village is bombed for seeking to walk to the border. Only two survive: nine-year old Amedea and a locust buried in her brow. This is the story of the Locust Girl. This is her lovesong — for those walking to the border for dear life, and those guarding the border for dear life.