Told from the point of view of Chinese brother and sister Lai and Ying, Rowoe documents their lives of backbreaking work, starvation, and discrimination. They eventually leave the gold fields to try and find work in May Town. Here they become part of a Chinese underclass that merges with outcast Whites including sex worker Sophie and her servant Meriem. While some Chinese help their fellows by employing them and assisting them, others tempt them into gambling and opium abuse. Brother Lai falls into despair, loses the money he saved and commits suicide. This grim tableau is lightened by Ling’s ability to find work with a Chinese shopkeeper and her friendship with Meriem, an Anglo girl who has been rejected by her family because she had a child while unmarried.
Described as a “post colonial” novel, it marks the emergence of stories from marginalized groups in Australia who describe the dominant Anglo culture as discriminatory. It gives a different view of how we see ourselves.
June 6th - 'One Last Secret', Adele Parkes.