Another month, another Six Degrees of Separation meme. My how quickly the months are passing! The meme is, as most of you know by now, currently hosted by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest). Each month she nominates a book from which we try to create a chain of seven books, linking one from the other on whatever excuse, flimsy or otherwise that we can come up with. And, guess what, this month I have actually read the nominated book, Christos Tsiolkas’ The slap (my review). As always, I have read all the books I select for my chain.
Tsiolkas’ The slap is about an extended family, of migrant background, and friends, living in suburban Melbourne. Its author, Tsiolkas, is Australian-born of Greek immigrant parents. This reminded me of Hanif Kureishi’s The buddha of suburbia (my review) to which I admit I’ve linked in this meme before. Kureishi is English-born of a Pakistani father and English mother, and his book is about the life of a multicultural family in a London suburbs. More satirical than Tsiolkas’ The slap, and more closely focused on the challenges of race and ethnicity, but both reflect the experience of immigrant generations in the ‘burbs.
Linking now on content more than author similarity, The buddha of suburbia’s exploration of multiculturalism took me back to Australia and Madeleine St John’s The women in black (my review). It is set in the ladies fashion section of a classy department store in the 1950s, a time when the post-war influx of European refugees saw Australian society challenged by new foods not to mention new values and attitudes to life and family.
My next link draws on multiple aspects – content, location and period. I’m talking Mena Calthorpe’s The dyehouse (my review) which is also set in 1950s Sydney, and which, like The women in black, deals with the lives of workers in one business. However, Mena Calthorpe’s intention is more strongly focused on labour conditions. Her business is the textile industry, a dyehouse, and she exposes how workers are poorly cared for, poorly paid, and have little power to do anything about it. Towards the end of the novel, though, there are intimations of the workers starting to organise.
Wendy Scarfe’s Hunger town (my review) is set a little earlier, from the mid 1920s to late 1934, in Adelaide’s port district. It tells of the struggles of wharf labourers to survive as unemployment and hunger took hold. It explores the ensuing political unrest and the growing attraction of leftist political ideologies like communism and anarchism, alongside unionism, in such a volatile environment. It is also, like the books by St John and Calthorpe, historical fiction.
And so, my next link is on form (genre) rather than content. I’m going to change country and era, and pop over to early 19th century England in Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable creatures (my review). You’ll realise soon why I’ve chosen this particular piece of historical fiction, but first a little about its content. It tells the story of two women who were fossil hunters in Lyme Regis in the first half of the nineteenth century: Mary Anning (1799-1847), a poor working class woman whose fossil finds helped change the course of paleontology, and Elizabeth Philpot (1780-1857), a gentlewoman who befriended Anning and who was particularly interested in fossil fish.
And now, for the first time since I started doing this meme, I get to link to one of my very favourite authors, Jane Austen (1775-1817). I could link to any of her books because they are all set in early 19th century England, and I’d love to link to one I’ve reviewed here. However, I’m choosing one that I haven’t posted on yet, Persuasion, though I expect to write on it later this year. If you know your Austen, you’ll know why I’ve chosen this one: she set a critical scene in Lyme Regis for that novel. In fact, the Lyme Regis connection is the main reason I read Remarkable creatures.
And so, I started with an unruly, messy family in The slap and ended with another one, albeit of a different sort, in Persuasion. In between we went to England, back to Australia, before returning to England again. We must travel elsewhere next month!
Have you read The slap? And whether or not you have, what would you link to?
39 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM The slap TO Persuasion”
You’ve got some books here that I really loved… I’m especially pleased to see Hunger Town because it did what the best historical fiction does, it shines a light on a time in our history that tends to be forgotten in our comfortable consumer era.
And Persuasion… I wait your review with bated breath!
Yes, I was pleased to find the opportunity opening up to link it.
As for Persuasion, I hope you like whatever I decide to write about it. It’s the 200th anniversary this year of its publication so my JA group will be reading it in the second half of the year. In some ways it’s my favourite – though it’s very hard to choose.
I like how you have managed to end with Persuasion! I went from The Slap, to another controversial novel, The First Stone by Helen Garner. Followed by Corrections, Jonathan Franzen. Naturally followed by The Book of Evolution by Charles Darwin (I have only read parts of this book). Back to Australia, The Ancestor Game by Alex Miller and ending with Such is Life by Joseph Furphy.
I always love that you play along Meg. Linking on controversy to The first stone is a great idea. And, you ended up in Australia again too!
Oh yes – THE SLAP / Australia is mainly about a child in Sydney so on to:
1. TRULY MADLY GUILTY by Lianne Moriarity which is also set in Sydney and concerns an issue with a child. Guilt is also a huge deal (as per the title). (read in April, 2017).
2. Then comes UMAMI by Laia Jufresa which uses that theme of guilt along with loss and families but a lot of other things – Mexican gardens and neighbors and love.. (read in April 2017).
3. And from Umami I can go lots of places, but I’ll pick the nested structure when I see that THE KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST by J. Ryan Stradal is also quite cleverly structured and also about families, food, love and loss in a different setting (Minnesota). (read in April 2017).
4. So going from The Kitchens of the Great Midwest I can jump to A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles which takes place in a hotel in Moscow circa 1917-1960? – and the plot includes so much food – great food, great friends, and love – in spite of Stalin. . The Gentleman becomes very close friends with a young girl in the hotel. (Read in June of 2016)
5. And I guess that takes me to AUTUMN which a girl with a very old man for a good friend. They talk about time and art. (read in April, 2017)
6. And from there I guess I can go to THE MURALIST by B.A. Shapiro because the old man in Autumn talks about art and painters a lot – both books go back to WWII and the Nazis.
Great links too Bekah. Would you believe that Kate (Books are my favourite and best) who manages this meme at the moment, also made Truly Madly Guilty her first link! I love the title The Kitchens of the Great Midwest.
Just finished A Gentleman in Moscow. Initially I was unimpressed, but the main character grew on me, and my children learned musical instruments. Ended up loving it. Very satisfying.
I’ve heard a bit about this book now, Neil. Thanks for adding your assessment. Such an interesting era.
I loved Kitchens of the Great Midwest (thought it didn’t get the attention it deserved but so cleverly done).
And I’d never heard of it before, or should I say it has never registered before. So many books.
The T Chevalier book sounds great. I have seen it but didn’t realise what it is about. Good selections for a fun post.
I’m not a huge Tracy Chevalier fan Pam, because I’m not a big follower of general interest historical fiction. However, she does choose interesting subjects to write about, and this one, for obvious reasons captured my attention.
I love the way we all have such different chains. I haven’t read The Slap and can’t think I ever will. My first link is to another book with a child on the cover – The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates.
I haven’t read most of your books, but I really liked Persuasion when I read it years ago – and love Lyme Regis, so I am tempted to read Tracy Chevalier’s book.
Thanks Margaret, I’ll go look at yours. I’m not sure what your taste in books is, but if you like historical fiction and are interested in learning about women’s lives in a different era you’d probably enjoy it.
Haven’t read The Slap, but saw the TV series. Got annoyed by it. Anyway, I’m going to cheat and pinch one of your links. The slap is about behaviour, so I’m going to jump straight to Persuasion! A book set in this era is Newt’s Emerald, by Garth Nix. (More Georgette Heyer than Jane Austen, but who is complaining?) Another book featuring a precious stone is All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. The story I read straight after this was, appropriately, The Light Between The Oceans, by M. L. Steadman. An important part of this story is the lighthouse. Hence the link to The Watchtower, by Elizabeth Harrower. This is a story about marriage, so for the final link we return to Melbourne, with Family Skeleton, by Carmel Bird.
LOL. Gums, you can see how you are influencing my reading.
Haha Neil, I sure can see the influence! Woo hoo!
I like the link on precious stones, btw, plus of course those great Aussie women writers.
Hi Gums, hope you don’t mind if I put in a plug for my niece’s book launch in Canberra on Saturday (13 May). The link https://www.facebook.com/octopusandfamily has the details. Thanks 😀
Of course not, Neil. This is a children’s book? Tell us more if you like.
Adult book. Full of cartoons of an octopus, in various poses. So “Shocktopus” shows an octopus in an electric chair, “Glocktopus” shows a pistol toting octopus, and “Grabembythepus” features an octopus bearing more than a passing resemblance to an American politician. I told you it was a book for adults! There are more example on the Facebook page.
Oops, thanks Neil, that sounds pretty clever. I don’t think I can make the launch given this weekend’s commitments, but if things change and I can, I will. Smith’s seems like the appropriate venue.
I really enjoyed the Tracy Chevalier one of her best (IMHO!) The Buddha of Suburbia is one I’ve been meaning to re-read for ages. Great links. By the way I have no desire to read The Slap!
Thanks Annabel. I’ve only read a couple of Chevalier’s books but I did enjoy that one. Such an interesting and maddening story!
I know a lot of people aren’t interested in The slap but to my mind it tells a valid story about “real and flawed” people – and I like that.
I have a thing for Lyme Regis too (thanks to Austen and The French Lieutenant’s Woman), so now I have to decide whether to risk the Cheavlier or not. I couldn’t read the Girl with the Pearl Earring, but my interest level wasn’t very high, whereas I’m very curious about Anning’s work.
When we visited LR in 2007, there were oodles of books on Anning, (well a few anyway) & I regret not picking one up…next time perhaps 🙂
They’re the only two of hers that I’ve read Brona. I quite enjoyed Girl with a pearly earring but I wasn’t inspired to read more – until this one because of the subject matter. It’s of its genre, but the story is interesting. I haven’t been to Lyme Regis, but I’m glad they had lots of books on her. I’ve been to Bath, Chawton, Winchester Cathedral – but way back in 1980 and 1985 BEFORE Austen was an industry. I probably wouldn’t recognise those places if I went again but right now, despite my love of Austen, my European call is more to the Mediterranean again because I love the warmth! And Germany, because that’s Mr Gums’ special interest. Can’t do it all can we.
Three cheers Sue! A fantastic chain – I love Women in Black (almost included it myself) – did you manage to see the musical version of it, which has been doing the rounds in the last year or so? If not, try to see it. It’s brilliant.
I also loved Remarkable Creatures. And Austen – well, what can we say?!
Yes, Kate, I did see the musical. I agree that it was great fun. And, you know, the book would be a good link for your next 6 degrees – shop girls!
The Slap to Persuasion! Now that took some creative thinking. I’ll look out for your Persuasion review since its one of my favourite Austen novels.
that’s what I love about this challenge Karen . you don’t have to think , but just go with the flow! I loved that, when I found myself with Persuasion, there was the obvious messy family link. I think Persuasion has the messiest really of her novels.
I never think in advance what I am going to write for this – which means it takes unexpected and thus delightful turns
That’s exactly how I do it too Karen – just go from one book to another and see where I end up. It’s great fun I think.
It’s more fun than the other meme I do – Top Ten Tuesday – so consequently I am doing the latter only when something interests me rather than weekly
And it’s only monthly! I guess I’m not keen on filling my blog with general memes. I feel they might change my blog’s intent and tone? That one-off book buying habits one was good because it shared practices with readers and bookbuyers, which we can all easily engage in I think?
The weekly frequency does get a bit onerous which isn’t how I want to feel about blog posts – should be a pleasure not a chore. I’m also wary of doing too many of them for the same reason you highlight – I see some blogs which seem little other than memes.
Yes, that’s it on both counts Karen… The chore angle, and the filling up the blog one. I know memes are also about community but they can become the point sometimes rather than a side-dish.
I confess I’d forgotten the multicultural link in The Slap, and instead remembered them as being middle-class, so perhaps I need to re-read some of it, although I’m not really sure I want to if I’m really honest.
I haven’t read any on your list, although The Women in Black and Hunger Town both appeal to me.
It’s really interesting I hint, Melinda, the different things we remember from books. They are middle class too, but the main couple are Hector (whose name I mixed up somewhere with his cousin Harry) who is of Greek background and his wife, Aisha, who is Anglo-Indian. There are many Australians there too, so you could very easily just see it as middle-class. For me though the Greek stuff also came out, partly because Hector’s father is given a perspective at one point in the novel too, and partly because we have Hector and Harry and the Greek background – the Greek family relationship – seems to be played on.
If you like historical fiction – or just good stories – those two are both worth trying!
Is using Buddha of Suburbia in two instances of this game cheating? Just asking 😉
Fun as always. And way to work in Jane Austen!
No I don’t think so, Stefanie, or I wouldn’t have done it – of course! But I like to think I can roam more widely given all the books I’ve read!
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