AWWNYRC#9: Meg Mundell’s Black Glass is so very shiny

This is the ninth book I’m reading as part of my list of 10 for the Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge.

Black Glass

by Meg Mundell

Scribe, 2011, ISBN: 9781921640933


black glass by meg mundell

This is Melburnite Meg Mundell’s debut novel, and it’s a cracker. Once again*, we have Melbourne being gloomified in a near-future dystopia in which that mighty gap between the haves and the have-nots is bringing the city to the brink of anarchy. In the glass towers, the government manipulates its embedded media to try to keep a lid on. On the streets, the undocumented lower classes slink through the shadows, dodging security cameras and police patrols to earn a crust through corporate sabotage. And then there’s the young turks, looking to draw attention to the corruption at the top and the suffering at the bottom through increasingly violent demonstrations.

Into this tense social battlefield come two sisters, divided by an unfortunate incident, one seeking the other, and both forced to engage with the world beneath the veneer of identity cards and taxable wages.

The sisters provide the emotional thrust of the story, while other points of view are offered by a journalist delving into the underworld and a ‘moodie’ — a cross between tech and artist who uses lights, sounds and smells to exert subtle emotional control over people, usually in a crowd: say, keeping gamblers happy, helping concert-goers get frenetic without being destructive.

australian women writers challenge 2012And then there are the walk-ons, often undescribed, mere transcripts of conversation as their conversations offer extra explanations and bridge scenes.

It’s a fetching combination of character-driven narrative and reportage, as shiny as the black glass that hides the corporate shenanigans, but not dark enough to be opaque.

All the pieces fit together and the ending is sublimely satisfying. It reminded me a little of the most excellent Moxyland, by South African Lauren Beukes, with its ensemble exploration of social strata.

Black Glass has figured in a bunch of Australian awards short-lists this year; it wouldn’t surprise if Mundell goes all the way in the future.


* cf The Courier’s New Bicycle, below.

Previous Challenge reviews:

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “AWWNYRC#9: Meg Mundell’s Black Glass is so very shiny

  1. Pingback: AWWNYRC#10: Duet by Kimberley Freeman « Vampires in the Sunburnt Country

  2. Pingback: Black Glass by Meg Mundell « Devoted Eclectic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s