Title: Daughter of Bad Times
Author: Rohan Wilson
Published: May 6th 2019
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Rating: 3 stars
‘What better pitch than helping the refugees of the world? Who doesn’t want to help refugees, right? The five Australian facilities are immigration detention centres, sure, but they’re also manufacturing plants. That means two revenue streams for one facility. And we also clean up our image. We’re not just a corrections company anymore-now, we’re building communities, we’re saving lives.’
Rin Braden is almost ready to give up on life after the heartbreaking death of her lover Yamaan and the everyday dread of working for her mother’s corrupt private prison company. But through a miracle Yamaan has survived.
Yamaan turns up in an immigration detention facility in Australia, trading his labour for a supposedly safe place to live. This is no ordinary facility, it’s Eaglehawk MTC, a manufactory built by her mother’s company to exploit the flood of environmental refugees.
Now Rin must find a way to free Yamaan before the ghosts of her past and a string of bad choices catch up with them both.
In its vision of the future, Daughter of Bad Times explores the truth about a growing inhumanity, as profit becomes the priority.
“This book, Daughter of Bad Times, emerges from the need to understand what we face in order that we might change it.”
Rohan Wilson, author of Daughter of Bad Times
There is a lot of thought and meaning that goes into a title for a book. In the case of Daughter of Bad Times written by Australian author Rohan Wilson, this book is offers a pessimistic commentary on a dystopian world. It is a warning of very possible times to come if we surrender ourselves to big business, economic control, politics and the class system. The tone of this book is both contemplative and resistant, revealing a very real world in the face of crisis from the impact of climate change.
Rin Braden the “daughter” of this tale by Rohan Wilson dictates the events of this truthful novel. Rin is torn woman, tormented by the loss of her lover, Yamaan, and the relentless grind of working within the walls of her mother’s privately operated prison company. But, in a twist of fate, Yaaman has managed to survive and he crops up at one of Australia’s detention epicentres. Rin, in discovering her lover is indeed alive, must summon all the resources she can in order to set Yaaman free. However, the two have plenty to contend with from the echoes of the past and a series of ill fated choices. In taking a journey with this novel, the reader is exposed to a world when humankind is open to a new level of barbarism. Daughter of Bad Times a confronting novel from one of Australia’s critically acclaimed authors.
Daughter of Bad Times is the first book I have read by Rohan Wilson, an author who has a whole host of Australian literary awards under his belt. Daughter of Bad Times is a very different style of book to his award winning novel, The Roving Party. It is a brave and almost scathing attack on Australian society and the world at large, exposing the possibility of a global community overrun by profiteering big business. Exploiting those who are displaced due to climate change, which has seen whole countries and islands consumed, corporations have taken advantage of the vulnerable status of these refugees. They have provided shelter for these citizens of various locales around the world, but in doing so, they expect labour in return and they restrict their freedom. There appears to be no escape. The situation is dire and heartbreaking, as a well as terrifyingly real!
Our guide through the events of this compelling tale is Rin Braden, a woman who begins to question the status quo, once she discovers what has happened to her lover. It is an interesting journey to follow, although I did feel like I was never truly able to understand Rin. She seemed to keep her distance, but some of the other characters in this novel, such as her lover appear with greater clarity. Rin and Yamaan’s relationship is definitely complex and I did find the whole experience quite hard going. Interspersed between the block narrative involving Rin, are relevant interview transcripts, court riot proceeding transcripts, email communications, media releases, media responses and letters. All these mediums work to build the layers of this story frame.
The world, including Australia, is represented in a vivid dystopian picture thanks to the prose handed over by Rohan Wilson. It was almost nightmarish, imagining how the possibility of this society could very easily arise. There was a strong visual quality to the scenes depicted in Daughter of Bad Times and I could see this book transferring to the screen quite well. There are some heavy themes covered within the novel, from homelessness, refugee treatment, policy, politics, class, wealth distribution, injustice, inequality and extortion. This really is just the tip of the iceberg! It did feel a quite overwhelming at times to contemplate all these factors playing into a dystopian world that could very easily creep up on us.
Daughter of Bad Times is almost an omen of sorts, suggesting the rise of a society that we could easily face if we do not think critically and interrogate the issue of climate change, world economics and our treatment of refugees across the globe. With a rich character study and a strong relationship focus on two lovers planted in this dystopian world, Rohan Wilson has presented his readers with a compelling case to lobby for change. I found Daughter of Bad Times difficult terrain to attack, but nevertheless, it is stark piece of literature that I am sure will hold weight with interested readers of dystopian or political based texts.
Daughter of Bad Times by Rohan Wilson was published on 6th May 2019 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*Book #6 of the 2019 Aussie male author challenge.