Bruny by Heather Rose

In 2017, Heather Rose won the Stella Prize for The Museum of Modern Love; a meditation on art and life in New York City. Her new book Bruny, set in Rose’s home state of Tasmania, couldn’t be more different. Bruny is an explosive, political thriller and despite its October release, will be one of the most discussed Australian novels of this year.

Sometime in the near future, a six lane bridge worth billions of dollars connecting Tasmania with the popular South East island of Bruny is nearing completion. One evening, shortly after an unknown boat has been seen in the vicinity, there is a massive explosion that takes a large part of the bridge with it into the sea.

Enter Astrid Coleman or ‘Ace’, who left Tasmania years ago and now works with the UN. She has responded to a call from her twin brother John who is also Tasmania’s Premier. John wants Astrid to act as a conflict resolution expert as the government is determined that the bridge will still be completed on time.

Rose has skillfully adapted to the thriller genre. Astrid is a feisty protagonist and the plot is well paced with clever twists and witty moments. It’s not just for Tasmanians but they will be drawn to it. As a former Tasmanian, I felt myself responding to a number of Astrid’s observations; especially in relation to the reasons people leave Tasmania and why they stay.

However, Bruny is more than its storyline; it is obviously a deeply personal project for the author. It is a subversive and at times ironic novel and one can’t deny it reveals indications of the author’s beliefs, politics and frustrations. Some people will be challenged by the novel’s content, but I think ultimately Rose’s readership is going to increase as a result.

This is a brave book that I don’t think people have seen coming. I can’t wait for people to start reading it and for the discussions to begin.

Amanda Rayner is the returns officer at Readings Carlton.

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Heather Rose

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