Black Rock White City by A.S Patric
Black Rock White City is a novel about the damages of war, the limits of choice, and the hope of love.
During a hot Melbourne summer Jovan’s cleaning work at a bayside hospital is disrupted by acts of graffiti and violence becoming increasingly malevolent. For Jovan the mysterious words that must be cleaned away dislodge the poetry of the past. He and his wife Suzana were forced to flee Sarajevo and the death of their children.
Intensely human, yet majestic in its moral vision, Black Rock White City is an essential story of Australia’s suburbs now, of displacement and immediate threat, and the unexpected responses of two refugees as they try to reclaim their dreams. It is a breathtaking roar of energy that explores the immigrant experience with ferocity, beauty and humour.
Where to buy it: QBD the Bookshop, paperback $29.99
When can I get my hands on it: Now!
What can I expect: PTSD, war, grief, love and overall amazingness
This book!!!! Where do I even start with the beauty that is this novel? It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that I have been this emotionally invested in. BRWC is by no means a happy book. It’s depressing, morbid and heavy. But it’s so beautifully depressing and so poetically morbid.
“We will rest and let ourselves part at the ribs, unfold our vertebrae and let our skulls roll along at the feet of those continuing to move along to the end of the tunnel.”
Patric’s writing style is flawless and his character development for both major and minor characters is impeccable. I loved Jovan as a character so much. A tall, broad man whose size is intimidating and yet he’s so gentle and recites his own poetry.
“If I was the dream of water, you’d insist on the desert in your mouth, only because you never remember the rolling blue kisses of waves come the cold light of day.”
Even Jovan’s white van felt like a reflection of Jovan and Suzanna’s relationship. Barely holding it together, always on the brink of breaking down, always in need of fixing and yet he refuses to replace it.
This book does change time frames without warning. Patric will begin a particular scene only to veer off into either a memory from Jovan or Suzanna’s life in Sarajevo, or a memory of their two deceased children. This threw me off a little in the beginning but I feel like it is fitting with this novel. It’s a reflection of one’s natural thought process, unstructured and susceptible to distractions. Little moments trigger difficult memories. And as this book does look at PTSD (at least that’s what I got from this), I felt like the lack of structure in this sense was fitting. Not many authors can get away with this but I think Patric pulls it off within the context of this novel.
There were mixed reviews about Dr. Graffito and the significance of this storyline within the overarching story. I personally enjoyed this storyline. I was intrigued to know what he’d do next and I enjoyed the cryptic messages and their relevance to the role of doctors and the significance of what they do. I feel like without this side storyline the book would have been a bit too heavy and would have lacked the subtle anticipation that I felt when being introduced to different characters. I was constantly trying to guess who Dr. Graffito was.
This novel is very deserving of the Miles Franklin award and I honestly can’t praise it enough. This is a book that needs to be read.
Final rating: 5/5