Thea Astley – The Multiple effects of Rainshadow

Wow, this is one of those books that when you finish it you just sit there for a bit, staring at the book and trying to compose your thoughts. It is beautifully written but boy is it bleak.

The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow is based on true events on Palm Island in Northern Queensland in 1930. The island was ostensibly a prison for Aboriginals. Indigenous communities were relocated to Palm Island for their own safety. It was also the period of “out of sight out of mind”.

After the unnecessary death of his wife the superintendent of the Island goes on a killing spree, killing and injuring a number of staff and his two children.

The story is then told via the voices of the people who were there on the night of the violence. They look back of the event 20 years later. All are affected in different ways, from depression to denial. Depressingly, after the awful events in 1930 the subsequent superintendents were no more supportive of the indigenous community or in fact the administration staff of the island.

I think Palm Island has had more than its fair share of unpleasantness!