2019 - Shortlisted
Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip is a rip-roaring, passionate tale about a family in a small town, told with irreverent humour and a staunchly political heart. This is Lucashenko’s sixth book and is infused with her customary verve and literary brilliance. The novel is studded with flawed and therefore unforgettable characters, hurtling into situations that unfold through darkly comic circumstances, woven through with crackling dialogue. At one level, the story mirrors the injustices of colonisation and the struggles of Indigenous communities for land rights. At another level the novel presents a shimmering utopia, richly imagined, if as yet unreached, in relation to the ongoing custodianship of this continent and its surrounding waters.
Right from the start, when a young woman, Kerry Salter, rides into town on a motorbike, the reader is immediately aware of being in the safe hands of a marvellous storyteller. Things don’t go quite to plan for Ms Salter or the other characters. Death, Centrelink payments, funerary hijinks, real estate agents who are not quite what they seem, a river that is alive and explosive family secrets, take the characters on a journey that changes them all. The novel deftly exposes the gendered, racial and class-based fault lines that divide families and communities while also offering an intimate glimpse into the sometimes tragic, sometimes glorious interactions between the Salter family and those who seek to diminish them. This is the work of one of Australia’s finest storytellers and will be thoroughly enjoyed by all readers.