Skip to content

Joe’s Fruit Shop & Milk Bar

by Zoe Boccabella

‘Nonno Anni gives me a nudge. “You know, when I first came to Australia, I knew that my life would change forever.”‘

Leaving the small village of Fossa in Italy in 1939 to meet a father he barely remembered in a place that was far from everything he knew, fifteen-year-old Annibale Boccabella arrived in Australia determined to make a go of it. It was a time when everything was changing and anything seemed possible. Life was tough but you could still chase your dreams.

More than 70 years later, in 2011, Zoe Boccabella and her family hurriedly try to save the treasured belongings of Annibale and his wife Francesca-Zoe’s grandparents-from the rising waters of the Brisbane River. When Zoe sees the sign from their old fruit shop and milk bar about to disappear beneath the floodwater, this triggers in her a realisation that while she has long looked to Italy to discover her migrant heritage, much of it happened here in Australia.

In Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar, Zoe artfully weaves her own experiences with those of her grandparents, taking us on a journey from Abruzzo and Calabria in Italy to Australian sugar cane fields, internment camps, Greek cafes, and the fruit shop and milk bar that was the focus of a family’s hopes and dreams for the future.

With memorable, beautifully portrayed characters, evocative writing and a sweeping tale that reflects the experience of so many Australians, this is a story that will touch your heart and remind you of the important things in life.


27 January, 2015

About Zoe Boccabella

Zoe Boccabella was born in Brisbane in 1973. For many years, she worked as a writer, in media liaison and as a researcher for universities, government and the police service, as well as freelance. She has also worked for several restaurants and a delicatessen. Zoe has a Bachelor of Arts in literature and sociology, a Master of Philosophy, and has studied scriptwriting. Since childhood, she has loved to write, attempting her first novel, 'Tragedy Island', at age seven. These days Zoe is drawn to collecting spoken histories and the stories of migrants, and writes both memoir and fiction. She loves cooking handed-down family recipes as well as creating new ones, and also enjoys gardening and painting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *