Updated: Dec 21, 2019
Although I'm not sure it will make for easy reading, if there is one collection of short stories I'd like to read this summer it's 'A Constant Hum' by Alice Bishop. The cover is disconcertingly beautiful, but what is 'a constant hum'? Is it the hum of life in the bush, the sound of cicadas and insects buzzing, the chatter of birds, or might it be the reverberating aftermath that stays with survivors of devastating of bushfire? That white noise of loss and trauma.
Alice Bishop's own home was destroyed by the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009. Although I wasn't living in Australia at that time, I became aware of the statistics: 173 dead, 400 plus people injured, more than 2000 homes destroyed. Seeing and listening to news coverage of the terrible devastation wrought by the current bushfires in Australia, brings climate concerns into ever sharper focus. But it's not only about statistics. It's about very human stories of suffering, grief, loss and trying to come to terms with trauma.
This collection of stories has received high accolades:
‘A Constant Hum is a remarkable work of fiction, producing a suite of stories dealing with the fundamental human concerns of love, grief and recovery. Alice Bishop has the capacity to convey such emotions with tenderness, a lightness of touch and true craft. She is a writer of the highest quality.’
‘Alice Bishop may be the début writer of the year.’
Astrid Edwards, ABR
‘Hugely impressive…I really loved it…It’s so cleverly positioned in the way it looks back by bearing witness, but simultaneously reimagines the present and prefigures the future. And it’s so beautifully observed.’
' ...The further the reader moves through the pages, the more intense the stories…Confronting and poetic.’ Age
‘Tenderly written portraits of heartache.’ 3CR
'Hope prevails over horror and human tragedy in each beautifully written tale.’
‘Extremely well measured…A heartbreakingly beautiful book that is both uncomfortable and essential reading.’
Kill Your Darlings
The beginnings of A Constant Hum have been commended in the 2015 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and then longlisted in both the inaugural Richell Prize and the 2017 Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award.
In 2018 A Constant Hum was shortlisted in the Penguin Random House Literary Prize.
Alice's work has also appeared in Meanjin, Southerly, Australian Book Review, Griffith REVIEW, Overland, The Suburban Review, Visible Ink, Seizure, Voiceworks, and the human rights publication Right Now.
Find out more about Alice Bishop from her website: http://alicebishop.site