By Bonnie Etherington
Also longlisted for the 2018 Ockham Acorn Fiction Prize is this debut novel from Bonnie Etherington. After the accidental death of Ruth’s five-year-old sister, their father decides that atonement and healing are in order, and taking on aid work in a mountain village in Irian Jaya is the way to find it. It is the late 1990s, a time of civil unrest and suppression in the Indonesian province, now known as West Papua. The family drops into what seems the middle of nowhere, where they experience a vibrant landscape, an ever-changing and disorientating world, and – for Ruth – new voices. While her parents find it a struggle to save themselves, let alone anyone else, Ruth seeks redemption in bearing witness to and passing on the stories of those who have been silenced – even as she is haunted by questions about what it means to witness and who gets to survive. The Earth Cries Out is a masterful blend of history and fiction, focusing on a family trying to move on with their guilt and grief in such a foreign environment – fresh, different and beautifully written.
Matakana Village Books