Black Rock White City, by AS Patric
Siege of Sarajevo: Jovan and Suzana flee the fighting. Photograph: Peter Andrews/PA
Black Rock White City
Black Rock White City, AS Patric’s debut novel, asks how people who can’t go on do go on. Fleeing war in Sarajevo, leaving the small bodies of their children behind, Jovan and Suzana inhabit the wreckage of themselves in their adopted Australia. Both are traumatised and emotionally gagged. Once an academic, Jovan now scrubs hospital walls as a janitor, erasing malevolent messages written by a mysterious “Dr Graffito”. As the graffiti turns personal, with violent consequences, Jovan’s fragile sanity is threatened, while in Suzana a new beginning struggles to find light.
Psychologically astute, it reveals how grief, however expurgated, will find a way
Winner of the Miles Franklin award for 2016, this morally incisive novel, tempered with wry humour, grapples with our latent barbarism, showing hate as a ferocious motivator to equal love. Psychologically astute, it reveals how grief, however expurgated, will find a way. Patric is unafraid to look at the ugly face of war yet contorts a strange beauty from the bones of survival.