I've just finished reading The Earth Cries Out by Bonnie Etherington. It's different from any other book I've ever read.
I requested it based on the blurb After the accidental death of Ruth's five-year-old sister, their father decides that atonement and healing are in order, and that taking on aid work in a mountain village in Irian Jaya is the way to find it. It is the late 1990s, a time of civil unrest and suppression in the Indonesian province now known as West Papua.
I didn't really have any set expectations, except that it would be different from a lot of the other novels I tend to pick up. Etherington is a new author to me. She is a poet, short story writer and travel writer and all of these styles weave their ways into her novel.
The novel has a dream like quality it expertly feels child like, without ever becoming childish - in stead it offers observations that are more than adult in their detail, wisdom and thoughtfulness. Interspersed through the narrative are chapters/ short stories that stand alone based around the botany of Papua.
The story and stories are heartbreaking and real and yet uplifting - they honour the people of the region and reflect the difficulties too.
The novel moves slow and twisted, it's not about clean story lines and clever twists. It feels like a 'full length' short story - if that makes any sense. I think this novel would be soul food for anyone who's lived, as the author has, in unfamiliar places and with the dirt, customs, ways and languages of somewhere that is completely foreign.
It's thought provoking reading and beautifully crafted language.
I leave you with a couple of favourite quotes:
The women put their grief back in their bags that were so wide they could hold the whole world. They put their grief in their for bringing out during late nights or early morning loneliness, and started opening the cooking pits.
Sometimes all we can do is watch, have our own eyes on the earth even if we do not always know what we are seeing.
Details - PenguinRandomHouse, March 2017. RRP $38.00 ebook available
you can also read a beginning extract of the book in the same place
love you more than a book that makes you care without your consent xxx