Praise for The Permanent Resident / Sunita De Souza Goes To Sydney

The Permanent Resident  / Sunita De Souza Goes To Sydney features on a number of lists of must-read books, such as:



Judges’ Comments, NSW Premier’s Literary Award, Multicultural Prize 2018

Immigration and multiculturalism are woven into the fabric of Australia, and have been for centuries, yet we’re often still starved when it comes to raw, honest and relatable stories about migrant experiences. With The Permanent Resident, Roanna Gonsalves has achieved something remarkable: a brilliant, entertaining and moving exploration of migrant life that, despite focusing on one migrant community, manages to tell universal truths.

Across 16 short accomplished stories Gonsalves tackles racism, marriage, family, friendship, work and more. The superbly written narratives tell of the hardships of migration, but do so using characters and stories that still remain largely unexplored and in many instances taboo. Not only do the stories invite us to relate individually to the characters Gonsalves has created, but they force us to interrogate what Australia really means to those of us who live in it in today.



The stories are beautifully written, complex, endlessly thoughtful and thought-provoking, and populated by complicated and relatable characters. It’s a sometimes elegiac, frequently touching portrait not only of the migrant experience in modern Australia, but of what it is to be a thinking, feeling human in the modern world.

Tim Kroenert, Eureka Street, 10 July 2018


One of the pleasures of reading Gonsalves’ prose is her deft turn of phrase as well as her ability to create fresh metaphors such as “barcodes of sunlight fell through the half-open wooden venetian blinds . . . (117). She is deeply influenced by the language of the Bible as its imagery permeates her writing. Her feel for the form of the short story is also surefooted, and she often creates multiple layers of meaning in her stories

Augusto Pinto, Interdisciplinary Journal of Portuguese Diaspora Studies, Vol 7, 2018



The stories are full of very distinct characters, particularly the women. Usually in a short story collection the danger always exists of the personality of the characters blending into each other and acquiring a monotonous tone. This is not the case for Sunita de Souza. With the women characters, the author explores situations and how far can women push their limits. It’s as if they have always had an urge to explore but were boxed in by social rules of conduct back home in India. Whereas being on one’s own in a new land provides an anonymity that pushes one to the brink to discover new spaces — physically and metaphorically too.

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, 3 July, 2018



What is clear throughout, however, is the almost unnerving gaze of the writer. The voices — some of them in the first person — are convincing, and the portraits they paint are sharp in clarity. Gonsalves’s words are woven well, and there are sentences that sometimes scale the heights of literary magic. There is a story that can send, out of the blue, a chill down one’s spine, and there is one that makes the reader sit up with unadulterated delight…The collection, then, is the work of a writer of great ability and range, and of a keen observer of people and society….And while most of the stories are set in Australia, the inner conversations, notions, furies, and frustrations of its characters know no geography. In this lies the triumph of this book, which transcends manmade limits in its appeal even as it tells tales of those whose essential quest is pivoted on lines and boundaries.

Manu S. Pillai, The Hindu, June 9, 2018


Each story is a small jewel; each explores an issue that is very likely to resonate with anyone not fully a part of the social contract: immigrants, members of the CALD [1] community, first generation Australians, women… It is gutsy, feisty, often funny, sometimes desolate, and masterfully illustrates and interrogates overt and subtle racism experienced by the Indian diaspora (and by others who apparently don’t fit the dominant narrative of Australia). But for the most part, her characters are not shuttered by this situation, or resentful of the dominant culture. They find their feet; they navigate the social field; they both transform it and are transformed by it.

The Permanent Resident aptly speaks to the modern, intersectional feminist, and many of the situations, and the characters’ responses to those situations, evoke Roxanne Gay, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Nawal El Saadawi, and Toni Morrison. As in some of their writing, Gonsalves places her female protagonists in a well-known and generally universally understood setting, and allows those characters the space to be and become themselves, to criticise men and the society that allows ‘boys to be boys’, to interrogate themselves and their practiced femininity, and to be the heroes of their own stories.

Jessica Abramovic and Jen Webb, Text 22.1 April 2018



“To explore such experiences, purposefully, unashamedly and with skill enough to make them readable, demands talent, something that Gonsalves clearly has in droves. The only disappointment in The Permanent Resident rises from it ending so soon.”

Jen Bowden, Westerly 62.2, December 2017



Such narratorial wisdom, the delivery of which fluctuates between humourous and heart-breaking, pervades all stories in the collection, conferring them with aching poignancy. Tragicomic observations mixed with the occasional impressionistic metaphor illumine her characters’ entire souls. In ‘CIA (Australia)’, for example, the narrator describes the Aussie accent ‘like a waterfall, unable to be captured as it rushed over a rocky precipice’. (93) On occasion, this combination of specific detail, confident minimal action, intimate perspective, defamiliarised locale, and a penchant for the mot juste matches Alice Munro at her best.”

David Thomas Henry Wright, Verity La, 19 September 2017


“Roanna Gonsalves writes like a minx, full of mischief….The author has this ability to convey something ruthless with much levity. Her text fools you, melts your eyes with a light touch that charms with its delicious syntax, as the text tackles rough topics like bullying, domestic violence, sleaze, anguish, murder … without alienating the reader…Gonsalves interplays language with text in a kind of literary writing that is both captivating and unsettling, perhaps what theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes had in mind when he wrote The pleasure of the text (1975).”

Eugen Bacon, Bukker Tillibul, May 2017


“Roanna Gonsalves’s The Permanent Resident is a fastidiously crafted collection of 16 short stories that take a hard look at the desire of Indians to migrate and the experience of settling in Australia. At once cerebral and visceral, the stories explore the fault lines of relationships deeply influenced by travelling beyond borders and calling a new place home…. A blend of subversion and compassion characterises the stories that unravel the Indian migrant experience. The tales also transcend borders by tackling universal themes of relationship failures and courage in the face of adversities. There is a great deal in the stories that will resonate with all readers.

…The Permanent Resident is no butter chicken. It is more like sorpotel, a full-bodied “curry”, a dish made from meat and offal, first cooked on the shipping route from Africa to India in Portuguese ships and which has a permanent place on the Goan menu. Gonsalves is a bold Indian-Australian voice that laudably claims a space in the Australian literary landscape.”

Meeta Chatterjee: The Weekend Australian, Book Review, 21 January 2017.


“In story after story Gonsalves emerges as the master of the original metaphor, the artist of analogy, so that the familiar becomes almost exotic, the cultural peculiarity becomes the quirkiness next door…Her points of reference are vast – the topography of Dubai, transplant surgery, societal niceties, Biblical references – everything is grist to her mill…She repeats the virtuoso literary performance again and again.”

Carol Andrade, The Examiner, 22-28 April 2017—april-22—april-28-2017/15bookreview-thepermanentresident

“Gonsalves’s acute sense of paradox, her willingness to be playful and her outstanding ability to capture the moment with devastating bluntness is tempered with irony and understanding. With skill she motivates our affection and compassion for her characters, their dilemmas, their weaknesses and their efforts to demonstrate their success and superiority over their compatriots through flaunting their material possessions.”

Suzanne Marks, Newtown Review of Books, 31 January 2017 


“Gonsalves’s observations are particularly sharp, even wickedly brilliant, when she turns her gaze toward a community she is arguably familiar with…”

Anu Kumar, Book Review 


“Roanna has garnered accolades that are completely justified by her writing…Merely ruling her a skilful writer would be understating her genius. Her words traverse the pages with fluidity that leaps up to greet and refresh the reader at every helping. The stories in The Permanent Resident are a revelation of greener pastures not living up to expectations, but Roanna’s light-hearted telling, which simultaneously pokes fun at and lays bare the perversity of human nature, sets the reader up for a jolt as some of the stories reach their climax.”

Iris C.F. Gomes, Prutha Goa, July 2017


“The Permanent Resident comprises 16 stories which display Gonsalves’s immense range and sensitivity in negotiating the uneven contours of human relationships…Her felicity with language is one of the major strengths of the book…This is a reassuring debut of a very compassionate new voice.”

Kunal Ray, Biblio: A Review of Books, Jan-March 2017


“This is a book about craft. This is a book about imagination. Here you’ll meet people, young and old, who are searching for that solid ground beneath their feet in a new land. You’ll meet the aspiring class, the earnest young ones on the make, the nouveau rich, the determined and the desperate, the cool and the crushed, the classy and the crass. But most of all you’ll meet everyone who is on that uncertain path to joy and human dignity, infused with hope and idealism and that ultimate human trait, to make something substantial out of the fibre of the human spirit.”

Mridula Nath Chakraborthy: Deputy Director, Monash Asia Institute. Excerpt from Eltham Books In-Conversation.



“Many of her stories reminded me of Jhumpa Lahiri’s fiction about Indian migrants in the USA, but Gonsalves takes a more playful and humorous approach…In many ways Gonsalves’ stories demonstrate people’s lives in limbo – students and others who are wanting and waiting for the much-desired ‘permanent resident’ status. They talk about it and imagine how much better life could be. One story, ‘The Permanent Resident’ – the last in the collection – has a barb. A woman attends her weekly ‘swimming for adults’ lesson at a suburban pool. Until now she has been unable to put her head under the water. Her teacher greets her, asking if today will be ‘the day’, and in the short time before the lesson we learn more about her life, and how tragedy has changed her life despite her seemingly secure status. This book appeals to the hope we all have for a ‘better life’, no matter what form that takes.”

Annie Condon, Readings, Hawthorn, Melbourne


“ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Starting life in another country is the subject matter of Roanna Gonsalves short story collection titled The Permanent Resident. The thought-provoking stories here are of people facing the challenges of fitting in and being accepted in their new country as they try to do the things we all hope to do – get good jobs, form friendships, find love, start families. Some amusing, some poignant and offering cross-cultural insights on negotiating a new country, its potential and its potential threats. ”

Craig Kirchner, Abbey’s Bookshop, Sydney


“Indian-Australian Author Roanna Gonsalves explains “it’s extremely hard as an immigrant to do anything creative,” when the focus is on working hard and establishing yourself in a new country. It’s lucky for readers then that she’s “not a very good migrant!” as she launches her first book.”

Kumud Merani, SBS


“The stories also cleverly unveil the yawning chasm between the relationship of the old well settled Indian migrants and those who have arrived in the last decade. The pretensions and airs and graces that some well settled migrants give themselves and their intense efforts in getting Aussiefied are underscored in stories like “Full Face”. The alarming incidents of Domestic Violence in the community find a sharp voice in The Permanent Resident.”

Kumud Merani SBS Hindi


“All the stories in The Permanent Resident offer the careful reader an opportunity to reflect and understand what it really means to be a migrant – when the seemingly obvious migrant experience could be the same experience of everyone who shares it….

This collection of stories is more a playful, thought-provoking reflection of what it means to be an Australian. In particular, in our post-multicultural world – where we take on a little bit of everything that we see, feel and experience – in a sense, the migrant experience is no longer confined to those who journey here, because the same experience can apply to those living here and trying to fit in.

The stories in The Permanent Resident are engaging and enjoyable. That they are stories about migrants is ephemeral to the overall experience. All Australians will find something that resonates within these pages.”

Salma Shah in Indian Link