‘The tall trees nearby called them up and red-tailed black cockatoos carried messages to them that they told no one else about.’
Pushing Back is John Kinsella’s most haunting and timely fiction to date. It is populated with eccentric, compelling characters, drifters, unlikely friendships, the silences of dissolving relationships, haunted dwellings and lonely highways, the ghosts of cleared bushland and the threats of right-wing nationalists and senseless destruction.
A couple make love in an abandoned asbestos house, a desperate carpet cleaner beholden to the gig economy begs a financially distressed client not to cancel his booking, an addict cannot bear to see his partner without the watch he once gave her, a mother casts her shearer son’s ashes on the property on which he worked, fascists pile into a little red car with the intent of terrorising tourists on the Nullarbor, a man more at home with machinery than people rescues a drowning kitten.
Yet throughout this assured distillation of contemporary Australian life, empathy rises like the red-tailed black cockatoos that appear and reappear, nature coalescing with the human spirit, the animals, the trees, the land, the people pushing back. These stories are at once disturbing, tender and hopeful.
‘One of the nation’s most significant living writers.’ Tony Hughes-d’Aeth, Australian Book Review