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The Choke

by Sofie Laguna

Literary Fiction Modern and Contemporary Fiction

LoveReading View on The Choke

This haunting tale of a child’s faltering navigation of her poverty-stricken upbringing in rural Australia crackles with grit, beauty and poignant truths of the human heart.

The world is a bleak and bewildering place for Justine. Born “back to front”, she also sees words the wrong way round. “My words were breech like me. Every year finished and I never caught up.” Abandoned by her mother and with her unhinged, unreliable father largely absent, she lives in poverty with her war-traumatised grandfather, Pop.  While Justine is isolated and neglected, she experiences some of life’s joys though her friendship with Michael, a bright spark of a boy who’s written off for his disabilities and cruelly known to his classmates as “spastic elastic”. Theirs is a truly life-affirming relationship, a beautiful bond built on understanding and kindness in Justine’s otherwise brutal world. Then there’s fellow outsider Aunty Rita, who lives in the city but offers Justine a helping hand, inviting her to call whenever she needs to, though Justine can’t decipher Rita’s phone numbers – Justine’s moments of light are typically quick to fade and flicker out. Emotionally isolated and disoriented by the dysfunctional adults in her life, Justine’s voice is acutely involving, her naïve perspective poignant with real-life rawness. What a feat of suspenseful and tautly lyrical storytelling this is, a moving story that ends on a note of bittersweet hope.

Joanne Owen

The Choke Synopsis

I never had words to ask anybody the questions, so I never had the answers... Abandoned by her mother and seldom visited by her unpredictable, violent father, 10-year-old Justine is raised by her grandfather, Pop - a man tormented by visions of war. Through years of poverty and neglect, Justine finds solace in the staggering natural beauty of the nearby Murray River. But when outside threats infiltrate even this sanctuary, who is there to protect her from danger? Exposed to a lethal world, Justine must navigate the final years of her precarious childhood alone. She must find ways to endure, she must run when she has to, and, ultimately, she must fight back. Sofie Laguna, winner of the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award, once again shows she is a writer of rare empathy, originality and blazing talent.

The Choke Press Reviews

Praise for THE CHOKE 'Laguna builds suspense deftly and without mercy. From the moment The Choke begins, a slingshot's elastic is precisely, steadfastly being pulled back... and the stone Laguna lets fly ricochets inside you for days afterwards.' Sydney Morning Herald

'Laguna has beautifully captured the bewilderment of childhood and the emergence of adulthood in her character of Justine. It is so unquestionably heartbreaking... an extraordinary read.' Readings

'...the stone Laguna lets fly ricochets inside you for days afterwards.' The Age

'[Laguna] shows all the mastery of language that garnered her a Miles Franklin Award two years ago for The Eye of the Sheep... full of richly drawn characters. Beauty and ugliness sit squatly side by side.' The Big Issue

'Utterly addictive' The Herald Sun

'...a book that is both gritty and utterly exquisite. The Choke is another extraordinary novel from a writer who is never afraid to go deep into the darkest recesses of human depravity and find something beautiful.' Compulsive Reader

'In her sagacious way, Laguna manages to show both how an upbringing inescapably defines a person and the ways in which a person can rise phoenix-like from their past to create a life of their own reckoning.' The Australian

Praise for Sofie Laguna 'An authentic voice, an evocation of childhood and memory that, for all its terrors, evokes the sublime, tragic moment when innocence submits to experience. Laguna creates a world and a character and a language that we become immersed within. That she does it with a subject matter of such destructive cruelty, that she does it with such rigor and power, is a testament to her craft, skill, and maturity.' Christos Tsolkias, author of The Slap

'Enriched with creative flair and a unique voice' Waterstone's Books Quaterly

'The language is pitch-perfect - it is the light in this dark tale...An engrossing exploration of the different ways people can find peace, the different ways humans respond to their environments, the small and large abuses that are constantly overlooked or allowed, and where that line lies.' The Age

'The power of this finely crafted novel lies in its raw, high-energy, coruscating language which is the world of young Jimmy Flick, who sees everything...The Eye of the Sheep is an extraordinary novel about love and anger, and how sometimes there is little between them.' Miles Franklin Literary Award 2015, judges' report

'Truthful and beautiful.' Newcastle Herald

'Laguna's great skill is in conveying contradictory human depths.' Adelaide Advertiser

'Sofie Laguna has perfected the voice of a child. The Eye of the Sheep is a dark tale told with perfection.' Culture Trip

'One Foot Wrong is an extraordinary achievement... orginal and compelling' The Big Issue

'One Foot Wrong will at times take your breath away...the darkest yet most poignant Alice in Wonderland imaginable.' Media-Culture

'...bold writing, where everything is new again: Hester's adult word seen always through the endearing eyes of a child.' The Australian

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781910709573
Publication date: 28/03/2019
Publisher: Aardvark Bureau an imprint of Gallic Books
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781910709573
Publication date: 28th March 2019
Author: Sofie Laguna
Publisher: Aardvark Bureau an imprint of Gallic Books
Format: Hardback
Genres: Literary Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction,
Collections: 50+ Beautifully Written Books,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Sofie Laguna

Sofie Laguna's second novel for adults, The Eye of the Sheep--shortlisted for the Stella Prize--won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, published throughout Europe, the US and the UK, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award. Sofie's many books for young people have been published in the US, the UK and in translation throughout Europe and Asia. She has been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Award, and her books have been named Honour Books ...

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