Gerald Murnane’s litmus test for a story’s worth was whether it leaves an enduring image upon the mind. By this metric, Gregory Day’s The Bell of the World seared me like a branding iron.
Taking place in the early 20th century in post-federation, colonial Australia, the novel follows Sarah, a young woman living an unsettled existence after her parents’ acrimonious divorce. When she moves to outback Victoria, however, she experiences a great osmosis – like a “long clench releasing” – with nature and its flora and fauna. This is generous, mellifluous eco-fiction that engenders in its readers a similar shift, a great light breaking. – Jack Callil