At the still point of the turning world

A literary historical novel — yet to find a publisher

My latest novel, At the still point of the turning world, is the coming-of-age story of sixteen-year-old Indonesian girl, Siti, who is locked up with her family and 500 Indonesian political prisoners in Cowra POW camp in World War 2.

Ten months later, they are set free and Siti heads to Melbourne to train as a nurse’s aid. In the last year of the war she takes a job in a sanatorium for Indonesian TB patients in Sydney’s Turramurra.

The civil liberties campaigner Mrs Laura Gapp of the Civil Rights Defence League opens the door for Siti to fall in with the painter and fellow-artist Rosie, the documentary filmmakers Joris Ivens and Marion Michelle, and the diverse group of feisty women involved with the Indonesia Club and newfound Australia-Indonesia Association.

At the still point of the turning world observes the fracturing of the cool complacence of the White Australia Policy and pre-war colonial status quo in the Netherlands East Indies. It bears witness to a moment of Indonesian-Australian cross-cultural comradeship, desire and friendship; enduring colonial coercion; a minor nation’s faltering assertiveness on the world stage (Australia); and the 20,000 strong Communist Party of Australia’s determination to drive a conversation about de-colonisation, race chauvinism (racism), and Indigenous sovereignty and resistance.

It is the coming-of-age story of a nation (Australia), and the birth story of another (Indonesia).

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