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Scary Monsters by Michelle De Kretser


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Lili’s family migrated to Australia from Asia when she was a teenager. Now, in the 1980s, she’s teaching in the south of France. She makes friends, observes the treatment handed out to North African immigrants, and is creeped out by her downstairs neighbor. All the while, Lili is striving to be a bold, intelligent woman like Simone de Beauvoir. 

Lyle works for a sinister government department in near-future Australia. An Asian migrant, he fears repatriation and embraces “Australian values”. He’s also preoccupied with his ambitious wife, his wayward children, and his strong-minded, elderly mother. Islam has been banned in the country, the air is smoky from a Permanent Fire Zone, and one pandemic has already run its course. 

Three scary monsters - racism, misogyny, and ageism - roam through this mesmerizing novel. Its reversible format enacts the disorientation that migrants experience when changing countries changes the story of their lives. With this suspenseful, funny, and profound book, Michelle de Kretser has made something thrilling and new.

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