Review of An Ordinary Epidemic in The Australian

Amanda Hickie’s terrific novel has had a great review in The Australian. This is what they had to say:

With Ebola, SARS, superbugs and the anticipated exhaustion of antibiotics, the question of how Australians might behave if a deadly pandemic hit our shores is an interesting one. We are, despite our vast expanses, one of the most urbanised nations in the world, ideal perhaps as a destination for diseases.

An Ordinary Epidemic (MidnightSun, 400pp, $28.99) explores these issues in a tight narrative that views the event from the perspective of a middle-class Sydney family. It’s the second novel from Sydney author Amanda Hickie, following her reimagining of heaven in After Zoe.

The story begins with the Manba virus moving south from Newcastle, and infecting Sydney’s north shore. Efforts to restrict its progress prove futile as isolated cases begin to pop up throughout the city, but fortunately not yet where Hannah and her family live.

She is concerned, while her husband Sean is more relaxed, arguing against the fear that they will be infected. Against her instincts he insists their son be allowed to go on a school camp to Canberra.

In many ways this is a simple speculative tale, but its tight lines of logic and sharp interrogation of the limits of compassion when community itself becomes a risk, as well as our dependency on the state for things such as power and water, makes for a fascinating read. Hickie has created convincing characters and mines the rifts in ethical positions between averting death and helping others to do the same so well that it leaves you thinking twice about shaking hands with strangers.

Ed Wright, 20 June 2015, The Australian

Review of An Ordinary Epidemic in The Australian

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