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“Hi, my name is Annah Faulkner.
I’ll be reading from the beginning of my new novel, The Beloved, to be published mid 2012 by Picador.
The story opens in 1954, in Melbourne, before moving to expatriate life in Papua New Guinea.
The narrator is six-year-old Roberta.
Mama had eight arms. Like the Indian goddess Kali in my encyclopaedia, her arms were everywhere at once – stirring porridge, flipping toast, pouring milk and dealing butter, marmalade and Vegemite on the worn damask cloth faster than Dad dealt cards.
Through the big kitchen window you could see gum and wattle trees shimmying in the wind. Fat roses, pansies and dahlias painted the fence red, yellow and gold and beyond them the Dandenong Mountains swelled purple against the sky. But it was Mama we watched – Dad, Tim and I. Her name was Lily May but Dad called her Bean, short for coffee-bean, on account of her skin. She wore a blue gingham apron like you saw on ladies in fashion magazines who pulled trays of biscuits from their Early Kooka green enamel ovens. We had an Early Kooka oven with a Kookaburra, but there weren’t many biscuits.
‘I cook because I have to,’ Mama said. ‘Darned if I’ll be a slave to it.’
She tipped porridge into four bowls without slopping even a drop and pushed them across the table. Dad put aside his paper, twirled the imaginary ends of his moustache and sprinkled brown sugar over his bowl while his eyes roamed Mama’s face. ‘You’re a wonderful cook, sweetheart, a great housewife. You run a tight ship.’
‘I’m not a house-wife, Ed’, said Mama. ‘I’m your wife and this isn’t a ship, nor is it one of your ruddy aeroplanes.’
We thought Dad was a dill to call aeroplanes ships but he said all Air Force pilots did. He flew during the war and still said Roger instead of righto and Stand-by instead of wait. Mama said it was time he acted less like Biggles and more like the accountant he was supposed to be.”
ABOUT ANNAH FAULKNER:
Sporadic bursts of poetry and occasional short stories defined Annah’s early writing.
In 1996 experiences from a career in acupuncture prompted her to write a non-fiction manual. This was followed by a humorous biography, Frankly Speaking, which enjoyed considerable success in Australia and New Zealand. In 2007 her story, The Blood of Others, was published by the American literary journal Antipodes.
Other work by Annah has won the Marian Eldridge Award and the 2007 Longlines Award, beginning her happy association with Varuna. Manuscripts have been shortlisted with Hachette and again, through Varuna in 2010, with Penguin. In 2011 The Beloved won a Varuna/Pan Macmillan Fellowship and later, the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award – Emerging Qld Author category.
The Beloved will be published in July 2012 by Picador Australia
“The Blood of Others”, short story in Antipodes, 2007
The Beloved, forthcoming July 2012, Picador Australia
or via Varuna
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