Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme held over at Breaking the Spine where bloggers highlight what they’re looking forward to. This week, my choice is: Comfort Zone by Lindsay Tanner, former minister for finance and deregulation.
To understand why this fascinates me, you have to understand that Australian politics is kind of cracked. No, seriously: in 2007, Kevin Rudd was elected as Prime Minister and he was in office until 2010, when Julia Gillard ousted him and was our first female Prime Minister until 2013, when Kevin Rudd ousted her. That year he lost the election in 2013 — and God helps us — Tony Abbott was elected. Who’s a boob. There’s really no way around that. And then he was ousted by Malcolm Turnbull last year, and he’s now PM trying to make everyone happy, and to keep Tony Abbott from doing a Kevin Rudd and getting his job back.
I told you, it’s cracked.
Which is why when I found out this was written by a minister from the Rudd/Gillard years, I was absolutely fascinated. Turns out Tanner has written a couple of books, but this is his first foray into fiction and it is in essence, about a racist cabbie in Melbourne who falls in love with a Somalian woman, and gets pulled into a world of drugs, criminals and Somali payback.
It’s bloody awesome that’s what!
Here’s the actual blurb:
An astute novel about inner-city Australian racism — and about humanity prevailing over entrenched prejudice.
Jack van Duyn is in his comfort zone. A pot-bellied, round-shouldered cabbie in his mid-fifties, Jack lives alone, has few friends, and gets very little out of life. He has a negative opinion of most other people – especially refugees, bankers, politicians, and welfare bludgers.
Jack doesn’t know it, but his life is about to be turned upside down. A minor altercation in a kids’ playground at an inner-city high-rise estate catapults Jack into a whirlpool of drug-dealing, ASIO intrigue, international piracy, and criminal violence. And he can’t escape, because he doesn’t want to: he’s fallen in love with the beautiful Somali single mum who’s at the centre of it all.
The ensuing turmoil propels Jack out of his comfort zone, forcing him to confront some unpleasant truths about himself. After decades in the doldrums, can he rise to the challenge when the heat’s on?
Drawing on his many years of experience as a politician at the centre of bitter debates about refugees and multiculturalism, Lindsay Tanner explores the emotional landscape on which these issues are played out. As we follow Jack’s hair-raising journey from crisis to crisis, a powerful plea for tolerance and understanding unfolds – directed at both sides of Australia’s great cultural divide.
We Australians like to pretend racism isn’t a problem, but it is. It simmers under the surface until it explodes. It doesn’t help our media gives old white guys a consistent platform to voice their opinion that all Islam is bad, our acts against racism should be modified to allow racism, Indigenous footballers who call out racism are whiners, and more importantly, shouldn’t be the face of a major ad campaign of one of our biggest department stores (and damn, the ad is hot), not to mention most recently, one radio broadcaster decided we needed the Stolen Generations (when Aboriginal kids were taken from their parents by force) and the list goes on.
We’re in trouble. And the more people call it out and write books that highlight it, the better.
What are you waiting on this week?