Reviewed by Michelle D’costa
Title: Sunita De Souza Goes to Sydney
Author: Roanna Gonsalves
Publisher: Speaking Tiger (2018)
Sunita DeSouza Goes to Sydney is the Indian version of The Permanent Resident published in Australia in 2016, published by Speaking Tiger Books in India in 2018. A collection of 16 stories, it is refreshing like a splash of cold water in Bahrain’s heat.
Roanna’s characters have something at stake; their stories keep you on the edge of your seat, you root for them as she explores the depths of her characters with themes like child loss, divorce, writing, maternal love, ambition and more. I think some of the writer’s strengths show in the stories in her exploration of the dark hidden corners of a relationship, the domestic setting, work-life balance and more; however, these are not the only things she addresses in the collection.
Roanna’s craft is brilliant. Her prose is poetic and the sentences make you pause and savour them, reminding me of poets I have read. There are no superfluous lines but the restraint doesn’t affect the stories – they feel full and complete.
Most metaphors and similes are Catholic. Here’s an example of a character struggling with Catholic guilt – ‘Fuck off, I said to them, pretending to be filled with the fearlessness of someone who has nothing to lose – I, who once told my best friend she should wash her mouth with Holy Water when she called a bus conductor stupid behind his back.’ Another one – ‘I will, I said, like Judas.’