Maxine Beneba Clarke might already be known to those of you who attend performance poetry events in Melbourne, and she’s certainly making a name for herself in Australia’s literary world. Her poem ‘nothing here needs fixing’ won the 2013 Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize; her forthcoming memoir The Hate Race won the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship 2014; and this collection of short stories, Foreign Soil, won the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award 2013.
Beneba Clarke is an Australian woman of Afro-Caribbean descent. Her stories are assured and sample diverse historical and cultural scenes — an asylum seeker in Villawood Detention Centre; Sudanese women riding bikes in Melbourne’s western suburbs; a Black Power squat in 60s Brixton. Each tale is well embodied, rich in detail and local voice — I enjoyed the range of settings and characters, and was glad to read writing from an Australian and Afro-Caribbean woman.
Foreign Soil – Maxine Beneba Clarke – Hachette – PB – $25