Praise for The Permanent Resident
The Permanent Resident features on a number of lists of must-read books, such as:
- BBC Australian Writers to Watch by broadcaster Kate Evans http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b094s2sv
- 100 Must-Read Australian Books, by Jen Sherman https://bookriot.com/2017/06/09/100-must-read-australian-books/https://bookriot.com/2017/06/09/100-must-read-australian-books/
- Asian Australian Writers, by Pencilled In http://pencilled.in/suggested-reading/
- 50 Great Reads by Australian Women in 2016, by Readings Australia https://www.readings.com.au/news/50-great-reads-by-australian-women-in-2016
- The Australian Books of the Year, named by award-winning writer Mireille Juchau http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/books-of-the-year-colson-whitehead-helen-garner-camus/news-story/67bc485a23ed13ecf1a4ad4e866f13b8
- Aussie Authors of Colour Reading List for 2016, by Gilbert Caluya http://gilbertcaluya.com/political-prattlings/2017/1/4/aussie-authors-of-colour-reading-list-for-2016
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.
“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 http://verityla.com/the-state-of-australian-reality-roanna-gonsalves-the-permanent-resident-and-anthony-macris-inexperience-and-other-stories/
“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 http://bukkertillibul.net/Text.html?VOL=11&INDEX=0
“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. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/gonsalvess-permanent-resident-indian-migrant-experience-explored/news-story/fa78abc272208227ff048c486dc25e79
“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
“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 http://newtownreviewofbooks.com.au/2017/01/31/roanna-gonsalves-permanent-resident-reviewed-suzanne-marks/
“Gonsalves’s observations are particularly sharp, even wickedly brilliant, when she turns her gaze toward a community she is arguably familiar with…”
Anu Kumar, Scroll.in Book Review https://scroll.in/article/824946/immigrant-fiction-about-indians-moves-to-australia-and-about-time-too
“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.
50 GREAT READS BY AUSTRALIAN WOMEN IN 2016
“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.”
“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. ”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”