Writer Roanna Gonsalves Speaks About “The Permanent Resident”


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“The Permanent Resident” is the first collection of short stories by Indo-Australian writer Roanna Gonsalves. The collection of 16 stories are all about Indian Migrants to Australia and revolve around their hopes and despair and the permanent quest to acquire “permanent residence” in this country.

Roanna Gonsalves’ maiden book, “The Permanent Resident” holds a mirror to the Indian migrant community of Australia. “Many of her stories reminded me of Jhumpa Lahiris fiction about Indian migrants in the USA, but Roanna Gonsalves takes a more playful and humorous approach” says Annie Condon.

Roanna Gonsalves is the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award. Her collection of stories is about the every day life Indian migrants particularly the neo migrants who you see at the petrol stations, restaurants and as door knocking sales people in Australia. The stories portray evocative incarnations of these people who consider themselves to be “outsiders,” they speak of their unutterable grief, their frustrations, isolation, fears and anxieties and ultimate triumph.

Roanna herself came to Australia as an International student and struggled along the rocky road of waitressing and working at petrol stations but her passion for contributing to English literature in Australia remained unphased. I ask her if there is an autobiographical element in her stories, Roanna says with a smile in her voice, “It’s all about my life and nothing about my life!” She adds with a chuckle, “I don’t think my life has been as interesting as that of my characters!”

The stories also cleverly unveil the yawning chasm between the relationship of the old well settled Indian migrants and those who have arrived in the last decade. The pretensions and airs and graces that some well settled migrants give themselves and their intense efforts in getting Aussiefied are underscored in stories like “Full Face”. The alarming incidents of Domestic Violence in the community find a sharp voice in “The Permanent Resident.”

How hard has it been then to break into the circle of successful writers I ask Roanna, to which she responds, “It’s extremely hard to do something creative, but then I’m not a migrant who wants a big house with a huge backyard, my focus is to contribute to the Culture by telling these stories.”

Well said and well written Roanna, you inspire us to take a leaf from your book.

Online Source: SBS Hindi.

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