Writer, artist and musician Gregory Day is both a product of his environment and a conduit for its stories. Living in a small coastal community on Australia’s southern coastline, Gregory uses all his artistic tools to describe the people and the place. But it’s in his novels that he so clearly articulates the deep, hidden core of rural life that’s usually invisible to the casual observer. His previous novel, The Patron Saint of Eels, was a wonderful mix of familiar Australian earthiness and the mystical universe, where a Southern Italian saint appears in the small town of Mangowak, ministering to both the needs of the locals AND the plight of migrating eels.
In Gregory’s latest novel, Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds, the town of Mangowak has become a canvas on which he paints a large tale of small-town characters and all the undercurrents of their passions and fears. It’s a world where the threads of the past stitch together the lives of the present. And in this story, it’s through the characters of Ron McCoy and his mother Min that the community finds its social glue.
In this book, we meet Ron McCoy as an old man. He’s shy, but he comes into his own in the world of rivers and oceans and fish and all manner of wild animals — and he has a vivid imagination. From a child, Ron McCoy has created stories to explain the many natural phenomena of the world around him (including the Sea of Diamonds from the book’s title).
The moving voice of American short-story writer ZZ Packer, whose understated observations of human nature have the power to get under a reader’s radar. Packer’s stories, in her collection titled Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, are set across a range of black communities in the US. Yet these stories defy colour, race, religion and gender, stripping away layers until what’s left are small, fragile human moments that are jarringly familiar and poignantly slight.