A Breathtaking Aussie Novel: On The Java Ridge by Jock Serong

A Breathtaking Aussie Novel: On The Java Ridge by Jock Serong

Read some political bastardry here

One of the greatest things about Australian literature is its ability to continually surprise and reinvent itself – in voice, subject matter, and timeliness. In Jock Serong’s On the Java Ridge, a range of familiar and exciting characters wrestle against the damp reality of the present, finding themselves dreaming of a better life in myriad personal ways.

The story begins with familiar political rhetoric: weeks before the Federal election, a proud Australian politician greets the flashing cameras and live streaming video to announce that from now on no unidentif
ied vessels in Australian territorial waters will be offered any form of maritime assistance.

From there, Jock Serong takes us on a kaleidoscopic journey that excavates the heart of the differing perspectives of asylum seekers.

On the legendary Java Ridge, a group of Australian tourists keen on surfing anchor themselves off the coast of Indonesia, near an enchanting reef. For Isi, steering the Java Ridge is just a job made harder by defiant, carefree surfers with no regard for the preservation of the reefs they want to surf amongst.

In the meantime, young Roya documents the experience of fleeing Indonesia for Australia on an overcrowded boat called the Takalar, where tensions run high, water becomes low in supply, and some asylum seekers have travelled from as far as Afghanistan. As more and more necessities start dwindling, people begin to understand what it takes to stay alive, and they turn on the ferryman, their misfortune, and each other.

In the safety of Canberra, Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, has pledged himself to a new severe policy regarding efforts of the Australian maritime patrol to assist asylum seekers in distress – and it’s not favourable for those truly in need, out at sea, and yet is doing wonders for the upcoming federal election on the horizon.

The micro-worlds upon the Takalar and Java Ridge are catapulted into disaster when a looming storm descends on both ships – putting politician Cassius’ resolve to stay idle in the face of catastrophe to the test.

Since it tackles some important contemporary concerns, such as refugee policy in Australia, one of this novel’s greatest feats is entering the minds of all players involved with grace. We hear the stories of politicians in Canberra, laidback tourists on a surfing tour around Indonesia, and those unfortunate enough to be fleeing their homelands on overcrowded, under-equipped, and – most significantly – unwelcomed boats.

Each character is treated with sensitivity and empathy, a reminder of the power of storytelling to evoke far more than reality. Serong’s romanticist attraction to landscape, which is powerful enough to creep up on the unsuspecting reader and surprise with its keen-eyed observations of beauty, rivals characterisation as his greatest writerly quality. On the Java Ridge is a political thriller with a twist of romanticism, a modern telling of voyages at sea that ring true and exhilarate all at once. Serong is another rising Aussie star we’ll be watching very closely.

Jock Serong is the author of Quota, winner of the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, and The Rules of Backyard Cricket, shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award 2017.

Grab a copy

Related Articles

Richly Imagined Universe: Extract from The Missing of Clairedelune

Kids & Ya

18 July 2019

Richly Imagined Universe: Extract from The Missing of Clairedelune

Storyteller Extraordinaire: Review of The Mirror Visitor Quartet by Christelle Dabos

Kids & Ya

14 July 2019

Storyteller Extraordinaire: Review of The Mirror Visitor Quartet by Christelle Dabos

Sharing Cultural History: Q&A with Weng Wai Chan

Kids & Ya

10 July 2019

Sharing Cultural History: Q&A with Weng Wai Chan

History, Intrigue and Adventure: Review Lizard's Tale

Kids & Ya

9 July 2019

History, Intrigue and Adventure: Review Lizard's Tale

Sharing Stories of Courage: Q&A with Ingrid Laguna

Kids & Ya

20 June 2019

Sharing Stories of Courage: Q&A with Ingrid Laguna

Inspiring, Heartwarming and Timely: Review of Songbird by Ingrid Laguna

Kids & Ya

18 June 2019

Inspiring, Heartwarming and Timely: Review of Songbird by Ingrid Laguna

Finding Solace in Song: Read an extract from Songbird by Ingrid Laguna

Kids & Ya

18 June 2019

Finding Solace in Song: Read an extract from Songbird by Ingrid Laguna

A Time for Weirdness: The Story of the Huggabie Falls Trilogy by Adam Cece

Kids & Ya

7 May 2019

A Time for Weirdness: The Story of the Huggabie Falls Trilogy by Adam Cece

Hilarious Huggabie Falls Finale: Read an extract from The Utterly Indescribable Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece

Kids & Ya

1 May 2019

Hilarious Huggabie Falls Finale: Read an extract from The Utterly Indescribable Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece

Mind-Bendingly Amusing: Review of The Utterly Indescribable Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece

Kids & Ya

30 April 2019

Mind-Bendingly Amusing: Review of The Utterly Indescribable Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece

Synopsis

Amid the furious ocean there was no human sound on deck: some people standing, watching the wave, but no one capable of words. On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana.In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms and (not coincidentally) a hardline new policy is being announced regarding maritime assistance to asylum-seeker vessels in distress.A few kilometres away from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister.The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.With On the Java Ridge Jock Serong, bestselling author of The Rules of Backyard Cricket, brings us a literary novel with the pace and tension of a political thriller - and some of the most compelling, heartstopping writing about the sea since Patrick O’Brian.About the AuthorJock Serong's debut novel Quota won the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel. In 2016, The Rules of Backyard Cricket was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award. On the Java Ridge is his third novel. Jock teaches law and writes feature articles in the surfing media and for publications such as The Guardian and Slow Living. He lives with his wife and four children in Port Fairy, Victoria
Jock Serong
About the author

Jock Serong

Jock Serong lives and works on the far southwest coast of Victoria. He was a practising lawyer when he wrote Quota and is currently a features writer, and the editor of Great Ocean Quarterly. He is married with four children, who in turn are raising a black dog, a rabbit and an unknown number of guinea pigs. Quota is his first novel.

Books by Jock Serong

COMMENTS

Leave a Reply

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