26 September 2023

Danged Black Thing

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Eugen Bacon, Transit Lounge, $29.99.

An immersive, speculative fiction that’s lyrical and poetic. Eugen Bacon knows how to place emphasis on words and sentences to make them convincing.

Danged Black Thing is a remarkable collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, patriarchy and womanhood. We are taken on a journey from Africa to Australia. The settings of the cities and villages are sometimes familiar and, at other times, they have been grabbed from the Eugen’s imagination providing a vast backdrop to her exploration of poignant costs of being a woman. they celebrate the author’s own hybridity with wonderful aesthetics and lyricism.

Bacon’s writing is confident, purposeful, absorbing and she understands the limits of the short fiction form. Danged Black Thing is conjectural, lifelike, even apocryphal but constantly infused with veracity, compassion and blackness.

There are 17 stories in this collection. In the cyberfunk of ‘Unlimited Data’ Natukunda, a village woman, gives her all for her family in Old Kampala. In ‘A Taste of Unguja’ sweet taarab music, full of want, seeps into a mother’s life on the streets of Melbourne as she evokes the powers of her ancestors to seek vengeance on her cursed ex. Other stories explore with power what happens when the water runs dry – and who pays, capture the devastating effects on women and children of societies in which men hold all the power, and themes of being, belonging, otherness.

Born in Tanzania, Bacon now lives in Melbourne. It’s her identity that commands her work. “I love writing across genre because it depicts my own duplicity, my own diversity. I am an African Australian, I am a sum of many; I am a mother, writer, editor, woman, reader, daughter, friend. All those multiplicities come into my writing.”

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