‘Eugen Bacon gives us a cornucopia of dark fruitfulness. Her writing is equal parts fecund earth and fine-cut jewels; her stories juxtapose the scarred and abused with the powerfully magical, the numinous and the deceptively mundane. They travel the known world, remaking all its parts as they go, and they pull new worlds, fully formed, from Bacon’s unfettered imagination.’ MARGO LANAGAN
Danged Black Thing is an extraordinary collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, patriarchy and womanhood, from a remarkable and original voice. Traversing the West and Africa, they celebrate the author’s own hybridity with breathtaking sensuousness and lyricism.
Simbiyu wins a scholarship to study in Australia, but cannot leave behind a world of walking barefoot, orange sun and his longing for a ‘once pillow-soft mother’. In his past, a darkness rose from the river, and something nameless and mystical continues to envelop his life. In ‘A Taste of Unguja’ sweet taarab music, full of want, seeps into a mother’s life on the streets of Melbourne as she evokes the powers of her ancestors to seek vengeance on her cursed ex. In the cyberfunk of ‘Unlimited Data’ Natukunda, a village woman, gives her all for her family in Old Kampala. Other stories explore with power what happens when the water runs dry – and who pays, capture the devastating effects on women and children of societies in which men hold all the power, and themes of being, belonging, otherness.
Speculative, realistic and even mythological, but always imbued with truth, empathy and Blackness, Danged Black Thing is a literary knockout.
‘Eugen Bacon is an exhilarating writer. Her work is daring, fierce, visceral and sensual, fast paced and packed with action, earthed yet given to flights of fancy. It is driven by empathy for the eccentric and marginalised, a simmering anger at injustice and inequality, and a deep concern for the big questions — the scorching impact of climate change, the sharp double-edged sword of fast-changing technology, the destructive mania of dictators, and the immigrants’ deep pain at separation and ache at leaving the homeland. A true original who glories in language and gives uncompromising reign to the imagination.’
Arnold Zable, writer, novelist, and human rights activist.
‘Reading the stories in Danged Black Thing is an immersive experience. Eugen Bacon plunges the reader into worlds beguiling and unsettling, where humans are milked for their fluids, boundaries between technology and bodies are blurred, and aliens fall from the sky. To try to corral the stories into categories is a fool’s errand: they are genre fluid—provocative, mind-blowing, at times heart-breaking. Offering a heady mix of longing, loss, violence, sex and humour, the narratives unfold mostly through the eyes of black women and children. There is a sense of urgency in these voices as they struggle—and demand—to be heeded. The writing is bold, sensual, breath-takingly good. Bacon achieves the perfect tension between compelling narratives that you want to race to read, and language that demands you stop and linger. Consider this from ‘A Pod of Mermaids’: ‘Grief was all capsizing, all weighted down, right where there was a saving log.’ Bacon writes sentences you can taste, turn over in your mouth and devour, savouring the umami bite of her prose. Though reluctant to play favourites, the all-too-credible dystopia of ‘The Water Runner’ scared and moved me, while the sadness of ‘The Failing Name’, written in collaboration with Seb Doubinksy, is as palpable as the ripe mango that the narrator, Jolainne, turns into a tool of justice.’
Angela Savage – award-winning author of Mother of Pearl, Behind the Night Bazaar and The Dying Beach.