Locust Girl: A Lovesong


Publication Date: 1 Aug. 2015
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781742199627

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    Reviews and Awards

    Winner, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, 2016
    Winner, Philippine National Book Award for Best Novel in English
    Shortlisted, ACT Book of the Year Award, 2016

    There were many fine and stylistically accomplished works among this year's entries, but the distinctiveness, sweep and visual power of this short novel set it apart. Bobis’ fabulist, indeed fabulous, narrative enables the reader to imagine what it might look, smell and feel like to be treated as less than fully human. It asserts boldly that in a world seemingly devoid of rationality and logic, a young girl’s dream or a hallucinatory vision may well offer a means of maintaining hope, dignity and identity. Read the judges report here.

    —Judges' Comments, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction

    The result is a book that can be read with pleasure for its language alone, and which subtly and surely subverts the status quo. Bobis messes with our minds, in the very best way.

    —Lucy Sussex, The Sydney Morning Herald

    So often a work of fiction can tell the truth better than a recital of facts can ever do. In the talented hands of Merlinda Bobis some of the world's most pressing issues are brought to the surface. Readers of Locust Girl will be stimulated to think and act differently, while enjoying a rich and beautifully constructed narrative that transcends culture and speaks to the heart.

    —Tim Costello, CEO World Vision Australia

    Locust Girl is a stunning book which I read, all disbelief suspended, with astonished admiration for the way Bobis has used fantasy to humanise the hidden people beyond our borders.

    —Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

    What makes us care? [Merlinda] makes you wonder what it is that moves you so in the story even as you have the space to ask yourself why you are so moved. I loved the blurb written by the novelist Bruce Pascoe on the back cover: “Don’t be lulled by the lusciousness or lured by the love but make sure you are warned by the politics.” Merlinda never lets you sanitize terror but the journey through this book is not only about terror. You come out the other end of the tunnel awed by what it takes for the Locust Girl to emerge.

    —Distinguished Professor Sherene Razack, UCLA

    It is no surprise that a dystopian novel about climate change has won the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

    —Susan Wyndham

    As Bobis blurs the boundaries between a utopian and a dystopian society, she touches on the social malaise, cultural discomfort, and ecological concerns of our globalised times.

    —Emily Yu Zong, Australian Women's Book Review

    It’s allegorically pertinent not just to the question of refugees but also to how the future might play out if climate change is as disastrous as some of the modelling suggests.

    —Ed Wright, The Australian

    'The novel reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, particularly on the parts of authoritarian rules. In the Orwellian authoritarian rule, there is ‘thoughtcrime,’ but here you carry that further to ‘singingcrime.'

    —Emily Yu Zong, Mascara Review

    Filipina-Australian writer Merlinda Bobis’s new work Locust Girl: a love song is a surreal allegory on the divide between selfish privilege and disenfranchised victimhood...At the story’s heart is the malevolence of imperialism and its mercenary and parsimonious protection of the little that is left of its plunder of the remainder of the world. This is no pointer to the future: the future is now and we live the border and the divide.

    —Mike Williss, servethepeopleblog

    Don't be lulled by the lusciousness or lured by the love but make sure you are warned by the politics. Typically inscrutable, relentlessly seductive, Bobis uses a different quill... and Australia can use the sweep of a different wing.

    —Bruce Pascoe, novelist

    … a futuristic nightmare of an environmental and human apocalypse … a mythical dream of rebirth through a girl’s suffering and love. Bobis’ prose comes from the heart, blessing the world it sings into being. This is a novel that is both enchanting and urgent.

    —Maria Takolander, poet and fiction writer


    Most everything has dried up: water, the womb, even the love among lovers. Hunger is rife, except across the border. One night, a village is bombed after its men attempt to cross the border. Nine-year old Amedea is buried underground and sleeps to survive. Ten years later, she wakes with a locust embedded in her brow. This political fable is a girl’s magical journey through the border. The border has cut the human heart. Can she repair it with the story of a small life? This is the Locust Girl’s dream, her lovesong—

    For those walking to the border for dear life

    And those guarding the border for dear life

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