Hot Little Hands

Sunday, 20 December 2015

I had a bunch of books to read for this year’s Warwick Writing Prize – I was one of the judges – and the book I brought in, Skyfaring, got through to the shortlist. The final winner was Redeployment.

Hot Little Hands - 270

One of my reading highlights in 2015 was Abigail Ulman’s short story collection Hot Little Hands. It’s a debut collection from the young Australian author, there will be US and UK editions in 2016. A number of the stories are set in the US including Your Charm Won’t Help You Here, an encounter with US immigration on arrival which goes very wrong. It read so realistically there had to be some personal (bad) experience in there, a fact which Abigail seemed to confirm when I bumped into her during the Ubud Writers Festival in Bali in October

I could definitely relate to it as way back in the mid-1980s I had a US immigration experience which seemed to be heading in a very similar (bad) direction and for all the same reasons.


All the tales in Hot Little Hands involved young women – teens to late 20s – making decisions or becoming involved in events with the potential for going wrong. Curiously, since I enjoyed the whole series so much, it seems to stir mixed reactions, likes, dislikes or both extremes. The collection reminded me of one last year’s favourite reads, again a short story compilation: Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich.

All the RageAnother short story collection I enjoyed was A L (or Al) Kennedy’s All the Rage, she chaired the Warwick Writing Prize jury. It’s written in a curiously evasive style which I found reminiscent of Michelle de Kretser, whose Questions of Travel won the Miles Franklin Award, ‘Australia’s most prestigious literary award’ in 2013.