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Hunger Town

A novel

Wendy Scarfe

Hunger Town
'Here,' he shouted, 'here is a daughter of the working class. Not your idle rich dressed in silks and satins. She has to work every day. Tell them what you think of capitalism,' he insisted, still gripping my hand. 'Tell them what it's like to be a poor woman in grinding employment.'

In the violent and despairing years of Australia's Great Depression, Judith Larsen grows up on a coaling hulk in the Port Adelaide River. The Australian political landscape is changing and unemployment, hunger, protests and police reprisals spawn new radical ideas for managing society.

Judith falls in love with Harry, an idealistic dreamer who embraces the dogma of the Communist Party while she flourishes as a satirical cartoonist. Political tensions rise between them but when Harry's life is threatened Judith embarks on a perilous journey across the world to save him. In doing so she comes face to face with the cruelty and oppression of fascism and the importance of those who fight against it.

Drawn from family recollections and based on historical events, this powerful Australian novel tells of brave people caught up in the inspiration and the pity of great but lost causes.

Hunger Town was longlisted for the prestigious 2015 Nita B Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers.

Praise for Hunger Town:
'A vivid portrayal of the richness and variety of life on the Port Adelaide wharves ... It encourages us to think about the relationship between the political and the personal, and about how governments do or don’t support some of its most vulnerable people, the working poor. It teases out the differences between theory, idealism and realism. It considers the role of violence. And, along the way, it raises issues like freedom of speech, and the role of the artist. All very topical, n’est-ce pas?' - Sue Terry, Whispering Gums

'A powerful evocation of an era which is soon to lose the last of its witnesses ... trust me, it is a compelling page-turner; it’s riveting reading.' - Lisa Hill, ANZ Litlovers

'Hunger Town spotlights an Australia many of us are too young to have experienced ... Scarfe uses her historical knowledge to evoke those dark, desperate days.' - Colleen Tuovinen, ReadPlus

'In the shadow of the Charlie Hebdo murders and the increasing reach of a government keen to capture the metadata produced by us all, there’s a certain serendipity to Wendy Scarfe’s Hunger Town ... A surprisingly topical read. Who said that history never repeats?' - Peter C Pugsley, InDaily

'A fascinating read for those of us who do not know Adelaide’s political history, and for those familiar with this era it will evoke powerful memories of a time of political foment, union strikes, protest and police raids.' - Kathleen Steele, Transnational Literature, Vol. 7, No. 2.

'A useful resource and a means of engaging students with its themes of resilience in the face of adversity and solidarity despite hardship' - Mike Williss, Australian Education Union Journal

'Hunger Town is a riveting read, full of characters as distinctive as the cartoons Judith sells to the papers of the day.' - Katharine England, The Advertiser

'Hunger Town fits the bill as well-researched, and well-written, historical fiction, and in beautiful prose explains why Port Adelaide is such a close knit, and fiercely loyal, community to this day.' - Rhonda Pooley, Australasian Christian Writers

'The strength of the book centers on the attention to the historical context and captures the tenor of popular political discourses of the time ... The Great Depression, as seen through the eyes of an Australian woman, depicts conflicts between ideals, art, and protest that ultimately prove fruitless. The consequences for protest may be unlike the community’s best hopes, but the spirit of the people remains resilient, which may be a theme worth thinking about in times of recession and global economic uncertainty no matter the context.' - Victoria Avery, Antipodes

Wendy Scarfe was born in Adelaide. She graduated from Melbourne University and later trained as a secondary school teacher. For over four decades she has written poetry and novels in her own right and non-fiction works with her husband, Allan Scarfe. Her novels show her interest in history, political conflicts and social injustice. Writing in Australian Literary Studies, Dr Katherine Bode commented that Wendy is 'an important and innovative contemporary author' whose books offer a 'difference'. Wendy Scarfe lives in Warrnambool with her husband. They have three daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.
Format Paperback
Size 210 x 135 mm
ISBN 9781743053362
Extent 464 pages
Price: AU$34.95 including GST
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