Bibliophile | ‘Honeybee’ author Craig Silvey returns with new novel ‘Runt’

by Craig Silvey
Allen & Unwin

Fremantle author Craig Silvey’s novels are heart-warming coming-of-age stories where the protagonists have to find out who they are in order to live their best lives. Set in Fremantle, his first novel Rhubarb is a touching love story between two damaged people. His next novel Jasper Jones told the story of a mixed race 14 year-old boy in a racist country town who gets accused of murdering a local girl, and it became an Australian classic.

Then Honeybee followed 14 year-old Sam Watson’s journey towards self-acceptance and becoming confident in their Trans identity through an unlikely friendship with an old man. Now there is 11 year-old Annie Shearer who lives on a sheep property in Upson Downs with her parents, brother and faithful dog Runt.

Annie knows she is a bit different, but she also knows everyone is unique so it doesn’t bother her. She wears an old leather tool belt that once belonged to her grandfather and she can store useful things in it so she can continually fix things.

Unfortunately there are some things are more difficult to fix than others and no one has figured how to fix the drought that is forcing people off their properties – while across the road Earl Robert Barren has all the green pastures from the dam he built across the river that previously fed the town.

Annie believes that her three year-old rescued stray Runt has extraordinary talents and she enters him in agility course competition at the local fair to get some money to help her parents save their farm. Then she learns of a much bigger competition at the Krumpets Dog Show in London.

This delightful parable for young and old is about the journey of underdogs and outsiders towards discovering what matters in life. It’s about overcoming all the obstacles in the way and it is about finding out that not everything needs fixing.

Runt is also about retaining optimism despite the odds and not looking in the wrong places for answers. As Craig Silvey says, “In times of difficulty and duress, we often turn to stories as a means of comfort, or escape, or connection, or, perhaps above all, hope.”

Lezly Herbert

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