In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you, it will have you by the heartstrings. This is contemporary fiction at its finest.
Winner of ABIA Literary Fiction of the Year Award 2015
Winner of the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction 2015
Winner of the Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award 2013
In Melbourne's western suburbs, in a dilapidated block of flats overhanging the rattling Footscray train lines, a young black mother is working on a collection of stories.
The book is called FOREIGN SOIL. Inside its covers, a desperate asylum seeker is pacing the hallways of Sydney's notorious Villawood detention centre, a seven-year-old Sudanese boy has found solace in a patchwork bike, an enraged black militant is on the warpath through the rebel squats of 1960s Brixton, a Mississippi housewife decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her son from small-town ignorance, a young woman leaves rural Jamaica in search of her destiny, and a Sydney schoolgirl loses her way.
The young mother keeps writing, the rejection letters keep arriving . . .
In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you, it will have you by the heartstrings. Contains the brand new story 'Aviation'.
'Maxine Beneba Clarke is a powerful and fearless storyteller, and this collection - written with exquisite sensitivity and yet uncompromising - will stay with you with the force of elemental truth. Clarke is the real deal, and will, if we're lucky, be an essential voice in world literature for years to come.' - Dave Eggers bestselling author of A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS
'FOREIGN SOIL is a collection of outstanding literary quality and promise. Clarke is a confident and highly skilled writer.' - Hannah Kent, bestselling author of BURIAL RITES
'An assured and skilful debut' - Weekend Australian
Foreign Soil is a book in the tradition of Nam Le and Junot Diaz, with echoes of Zadie Smith, Monica Ali and Alice Pung - all writers Clarke finds inspiring. It is also the work of a unique voice and an astonishing ventriloquist. Ten stories, written over several years, enter the minds and hearts and dialects of Africans, West Indians, African-Americans and whites of all descriptions. - The Saturday Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times
This is a remarkable collection of disparate and disquieting short stories ... Clarke has a chameleon-like ability to inhabit different characters and surroundings ... her stories are powerful and relevant and show her versatility and ability to write local dialects and employ different literary techniques. - Herald Sun
In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you and grab you by the heartstrings. This is contemporary fiction at its finest. - Good Reading
Clarke lobs a Molotov under any reader expecting a literary comfort zone ... [Foreign Soil] marks the arrival of a major new voice in the Australian literary landscape - Australian Bookseller & Publisher
It delivers a series of brilliant, moving portraits that reach beyond the tabloid headlines and shed light on some of society's most marginalised groups - GQ Australia
[Of Maxine's work] amazing - Tim Minchin
an assured and skilful debut - The Weekend Australian
Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian poet and writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. She is the ABIA and Indie award-winning author of Carrying the World (2016), Foreign Soil (2017) and The Hate Race (2018). She is the author of five books for children, including the CBCA and Boston Globe/Horn Prize award-winning picture book The Patchwork Bike (2016, illustrated by Van T Rudd), and the critically acclaimed Wide Big World (2018, illustrated by Isobel Knowles). Maxine is the author-illustrator of two picture books, Fashionista (2019) and When We Say Black Lives Matter (2020). She also illustrated the picture book 11 Words for Love (2022), written by Randa Abdel-Fattah. We Know A Place is the third picture book she has both written and illustrated.