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God Forgets About the Poor

Peter Polites



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Ultimo Press
04 August 2023
‘A stand out amongst contemporary Australian literary fiction for its stylistic and structural ambition, God Forgets About the Poor is the novel Polites has been climbing to. It is moving, poetic, powerful - at once a folktale and a modern day lament. Christos Tsiolkas meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez.’ - Maxine Beneba Clarke, bestselling and award winning author of Foreign Soil and The Hate Race

‘In God Forgets About the Poor, Polites has produced a masterpiece.’ - ArtsHub

‘a triumphant reclamation, written in prose clean as polished stones’ - The Saturday Paper

‘God Forgets About the Poor feels like a culmination; it’s the author’s most striking work yet.’ - The Guardian

‘an important literary achievement’ - The Conversation

‘God Forgets About the Poor is a reminder that everyone has a story worth telling and hearing, but not everyone gets the chance to share it. This is one told well.’ - Books + Publishing

I will tell you why you should draft my story. Because migrant stories are broken. Some parts in a village where we washed our clothing with soot. Some parts in big cities working in factories. How we starved for food in Greece and starved for Greece in Australia.

You don’t know the first thing about me. A son can never see his mother as a woman. You will only see me in relation to you. I have had a thousand lives before you were even a thought. Hospitalised as a child for an entire year. Living as an adult without family in Athens when the colonels took control.

Start when I was born. Describe the village and how beautiful it was. On the side of a mountain but in the middle of a forest. If we walked to a certain point on the edge, we could look over the valley and see rain clouds coming. Sometimes we would see a cat on a roof, we read that as a warning of a storm. When we looked down, we saw the dirt, which was just as rich as the sky. My island, your island, our island.

Sometimes I think God forgot about us because we were poor.

A stunning new novel from the author of Down the Hume and The Pillars, God Forgets About the Poor is a love story to a migrant mother, whose story is as important as any ever told.


‘Polites brings to light his mother’s story, a migrant woman who has lived a number of lives, surely a common story in the Greek community, and while the title suggests god may forget about the poor, Polites wants to make sure the world does not.’ - Neos Kosmos

‘It is an exquisite mode for the diaspora story, a genre that is increasingly losing its meaningfulness in a time of its commodification. In God Forgets About the Poor, the old country is dead, yet it continues to live vividly in migrants' memories even as they evolve amongst future generations.’ - ABC Arts - The Bookshelf

‘Peter Polites is also sensitive to the ways in which migrant stories can be reduced, stereotyped and consumed in mainstream publishing, and is at pains to give voice to the complexity and richness of his subject's experience.’ - The Sydney Morning Herald

‘a nuanced portrait in which a mother—in her full and challenging complexity—is truly honoured.’ - Meanjin


Imprint:   Ultimo Press
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
ISBN:   9781761151644
ISBN 10:   1761151649
Pages:   272
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Peter Polites is a novelist from Western Sydney. He has written two acclaimed novels, Down the Hume and The Pillars, which won the 2020 NSW Premier’s Multicultural NSW Literary Award. He also won the 2020 Woollahra Digital Literary Award for Fiction. In 2021 he was the ACT Writer in Residence at UNSW Canberra.

Reviews for God Forgets About the Poor

‘Polites’ book is a triumphant reclamation, written in prose clean as polished stones but consciously bearing something of the occasional awkwardness and inadvertent poetry of his mother’s bilingualism. God may forget about the poor, but Polites evidently does not. He has rescued his mother’s modest story and made it into a contemporary epic of homecoming.’ * The Saturday Paper * ‘It’s a tender, funny, full-bodied portrait – and utterly transporting.’ * The Guardian *

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