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A novel of Australia as a very foreign land

4th December 2018

Farewell, My Orange by Iwaki Kei (translated from the Japanese by Meredith McKinney) – a novel of Australia as a very foreign land.

A novel of Australia as a very foreign land

Salimah is a Nigerian who has come to Australia as a refugee. She travelled with her husband (who rapidly deserts her…) and her two boys. She gets a job cutting and packing meat and fish for a supermarket. Sayuri is the wife of a Japanese academic who has come to work at a university in small town Australia. She has a small child.

What they have in common is their lack of spoken or written English which isolates them from the local community. They attend classes to remedy this… Salimah is uneducated, Sayuri is a university graduate. Sayuri helps Salimah in her studies, and they slowly become friends. Tragedy then strikes for both of them, and their bond becomes closer. As their English improves, they gradually become better integrated – and both begin to flourish.

Farewell, My Orange demonstrates the power, and necessity, of language for someone trying to assimilate into a new existence in a very foreign land. Without language ability, it is all so much harder. With language ability, it all becomes so much easier.

Farewell, My Orange is a slim volume (only 135 pages in the edition I read), but it is a very moving account of two very different people and their struggle to become part of a community in a country they have adopted as home.

A book to make you think.

Tony for the TripFiction team

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