Roanna’s next work-in-progress is historical fiction set in India, Australia, and Scotland between 1795 and 1825. The novel is based on the true story of Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s Indian servant, George Jarvis. This project explores the histories of the communities colonised by the British Empire, the ways in which these communities “love” back, the hierarchies of power and obligation between colonised and coloniser, the histories of trans-Indian Ocean slavery and slavery within India, and the links between Australia, India, and Scotland particularly in relation to the trade routes of the British Empire.
Roanna’s work is based on, and in conversation with, the meticulous research of many historians, particularly Robin Walsh (Australia), Devleena Ghosh (Australia and India), Grace Karskens (Australia), Tom Devine (Scotland), Mairi MacArthur (Scotland), P. Sanal Mohan (India), A. Sreedhara Menon (India), Manu Pillai (India), William Dalrymple (UK, India), Andrea Major (UK) and many others.
The creative fruits of this ongoing project are listed below. This project has been generously supported by the School of the Arts and Media at UNSW, the Australia Council for the Arts, the UNSW Copyright Agency writer-in-residence fellowship, the Bundanon writing residency, and the Bridge Awards’ inaugural Varuna Cove Park Writing Residency in Scotland.
- Gonsalves, R, 2019, ‘A breeze blows, or it doesn’t blow: History’s beckonings’, Southerly 78.2, March 2019 (cross-generic fiction and nonfiction)
- Gonsalves, R, 2017, George Jarvis, black hindoo servant, Port Jackson, 1809 (Preparatory Study): Westerly, 62.2 p150-154, December 2017
- ‘How Indian servants brought to Australia lived and survived in the 19th century’ Interview with Roanna Gonsalves by Kumud Merani, SBS Hindi Radio (interview in English) Friday 14 November, 2019.
- ‘Finding George Jarvis’. Historian Robin Walsh and author Roanna Gonsalves will explore different approaches to finding the elusive figure of George Jarvis, Governor Macquarie’s Indian manservant. Parramatta Lecture Series, Tales From The East, a public exhibition by the National Trust of Australia, exploring the historical and contemporary links between India and New South Wales. UNE Parramatta Campus Lecture Theatre, Level 1, 232 Church Street, Parramatta.Saturday, August 18, 2018. Read a reworked version of the speech here.