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Daisy and Woolf

Michelle Cahill



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Hachette Australia
01 May 2022
'This is where I begin. This blank page draws me nearer to you, the day sweltering, my courage quickens, the curtains billowing and the punkah swaying, the punkah rattling as I sit at my writing bureau ... it is a soothing sound.'

Mina, a writer, is navigating her place in the world, balancing creativity, academia, her sexuality and the expectation that a wife and mother abandons herself for others. For her, like so many women of mixed ancestry, it is too easy to be erased. But her fire and intellect refuse to bow. She discovers 'the dark, adorable' Eurasian woman Daisy Simmons, whom Peter Walsh plans to marry in Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. Daisy disappeared from Woolf's pages, her story unfinished - never given a voice in the novel, nor a footnote in any of the admiring Woolf scholarship that followed.

While dealing with the remains of another life, Mina decides to write Daisy's story. Travelling from Australia to England, India and China, freelancing and researching, she has to navigate cultural and race barriers, trying hard not to look back or flinch at the personal cost. Like Woolf, her writing both sustains and overwhelms her. But in releasing Daisy from her fictional destiny, Mina finds the stubbornness and strength to also break free.

'Cahill writes beautifully ... Daisy and Woolf is a novel about reclamation. Highlighting the inadvertent racism inherent in much of the classical literary canon, it reinforces the the importance of Own Voices writing, and shines a light on the lives of people of colour that cannot be understood or expressed without their input' The Age

'an impressive, ambitious postmodern novel that raises questions around race, class, feminism, Empire, the post-colonial voice and so much more ... a fascinating work, it's rare to see something of its kind in the Australian literary landscape' Readings


'Her deftness and linguistic grace masks her purpose, till she reveals a shocking glimpse of the price that art can exact' - HILARY MANTEL

'Traverses centuries, cultures and continents to deftly explore how race, gender and class have the power to shape a narrative' - MAXINE BENEBA CLARKE

'A dauntless novel of empire, and its ever-replicating costs. There are echoes of Michael Ondaatje in this novel's lush and observant prose-craft. This is fiction at its most human and humane' - BEEJAY SILCOX

'In luminous prose, she has brought an old world back to life. Her background as a poet is clear in her evocative and detailed descriptions of colonial India. Daisy's voice is perfectly tuned and her story is compelling' - MELANIE CHENG

Imprint:   Hachette Australia
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   300g
ISBN:   9780733645211
ISBN 10:   0733645216
Pages:   304
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Michelle Cahill is the author of fiction, essays and three collections of poetry, including Vishvarupa, which was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, and Letter to Pessoa, a short-story collection that won a 2017 NSW Premier's Literary Award (Glenda Adams Award) and was shortlisted for the 2017 Steele Rudd Queensland Literary Award. Born in Kenya, she attended primary school in London before migrating to Australia. She lives in Sydney, where she graduated in Medicine and Arts. She is editor of the online literary magazine Mascara and co-editor of the anthology Contemporary Asian Australian Poets. Michelle was awarded the 2020 Red Room Poetry Fellowship. Her short story 'Duende' won the 2014 Hilary Mantel International Short Story Award and 'Borges and I' was shortlisted in the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize.

Reviews for Daisy and Woolf

There is passion and anger in Cahill's writing, as she unpacks the ways in which people of colour have been, and continue to be, undermined in literature and in life.--Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, VIC [PRINT] The Saturday Age [AUDIENCE: 241,029, ASR: 24,612]

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