6 Degrees of Separation: From The Road to The Salt Madonna
Welcome back to the bookish version of Six Degrees of Separation. Start with the book suggested by Kate over at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, and see where you end up by linking it to six other titles. It’s easy and it’s fun, and no two chains are the same.
This month’s starting point is Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic tale, The Road.
For a couple of reasons, I immediately thought of The Road to Winter by Mark Smith. The Road to Winter is the first in a YA trilogy about life following a deadly virus that’s wiped out much of the population, and the struggle for survival that ensues. There’s much more anarchy than what we’re currently facing, but the book is thankfully more hopeful than Cormac McCarthy’s view of the world.
Nathan Hobby’s The Fur isn’t set during a virus pandemic per se, but there are similarities. The ‘Western Third’ of Australia has been infested by ‘the fur’, an infectious and lethal fungus, and has been quarantined from the rest of the country by a twenty-metre-high razor wire fence and armed guards at each road crossing the border. In some ways the current situation is actually the reverse. Our state borders are closed but it’s to protect our health, rather than to keep us from ‘escaping’ interstate.
The Fur won the TAG Hungerford Award in 2003, and Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard won the same award in 2018. I’ve mentioned Sheppard’s debut novel about growing up gay in rural Australia before, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s powerful, honest, at times confronting, and totally worth reading.
The TAG Hungerford Award (now known as the City of Fremantle Hungerford Award) is for an unpublished manuscript, with the winner receiving a publishing contract with Fremantle Press. So does the winner of the Fogarty Literary Award, recently established for a writer aged between 18 and 35.
The inaugural winner of the Fogarty Literary Award was Rebecca Higgie, and her novel The History of Mischief is due for release in September 2020. It’s the story of two sisters who discover an intriguing book beneath the floorboards of their grandmother’s house—and they discover that not everything is at it seems.
Since I’m on the theme of awards for unpublished manuscripts and authors from Western Australia, I’m thinking about Tim Winton, whose debut novel, An Open Swimmer, won the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award (a national award for a manuscript by a writer under 35) in 1981.
A more recent debut novel is The Salt Madonna by Catherine Noske—about a woman returning to her island home to visit her dying mother—which is next on my to-read pile.
While I started on a post-apocalyptic trajectory, I’ve ended with a decidedly Western Australian feel. This seems apt with the recent launch of the Love to Read Local campaign here where I live (in the interests of disclosure, I should mention it’s been organised by Writing WA, who I work for part-time; however, I can claim no credit for the Love to Read Local initiative).
What was originally planned as a one week event in May is now being run over a longer period of time as a way of supporting authors and their books during a time when many events have been cancelled and launches postponed.
Over to You
Where will six degrees of separation take you?
And if you were to recommend a book by an author local to where you live, what would it be?