This memoir by Brisbane author, Sita Walker, explores forging your identity by moving beyond marriage, borders, religion and culture.

The author goes on a spiritual journey, facing her doubts (mainly about her spirituality) to define her own future.

Walker’s engaging and likeable voice draws you in and makes you feel as though you are hearing her story over a cup of tea. She creates beautiful imagery and is vulnerable on the page.

She intersperses her own history with that of the matriarchs in her family, particularly her grandmother Dolly, mother Fari and three aunts.

Each of the matriarch’s histories are well-told, although the story structure can be hard to follow as it moves between different eras, locations and family members.

Sita Walker

Physical and cultural journeys

The story focuses on three generations of women as they travel from Iran and India to Brisbane and Queensland. The women navigate loss, poverty and cultural differences between their Parsi heritage and modern Australia.

There are striking journey scenes: the author’s grandmother crossing the border from Iran to Pakistan with five children in tow.

Her mother standing alone on the deck of a ship travelling from London to Australia, praying under the stars.

The family experience epic love and loss. One aunt marries a rescue helicopter pilot after his near-death experience. Another aunt falls in love with her second husband on a remote Indigenous community, after seeing a vision of Cupid’s arrow.

A question of faith

The author grapples with her Bahá’ί faith, intrinsically linked with her heritage and her marriage which unravel together in mid-life.

Sitting with a new partner at a memoir launch, the author recognises her own struggle and acknowledges her doubts about faith. This question of faith doesn’t have a neat resolution in the book.

Walker grapples with wars fought in the name of religion, saying ‘The God of all that is good is also the God of no good.’

The author discovers her spiritual heritage as a dreamer, with dreams connecting to the spirit world. After Walker’s divorce, her departed Auntie Irie comes to comfort her and ‘the room fills with beauty and warmth and love.’

She reflects on how her spirituality was shared with her grandmother, who once used an egg to draw out bad energy from Walker. This practice had been dismissed as superstition by Sita’s father. Nonplussed, Sita’s grandmother equated her spirituality with his God.

This debut book is a strong start from the first time author, although it would have benefited from a firmer edit. The confusing structure, lack of a clear resolution and wandering final chapter distract from what is otherwise solid writing.

Walker’s lyrical style would also lend itself well to fiction, as at times I forgot I was reading a true story and was caught up with the characters.

The God of No Good is worth a read, particularly for anyone facing change, loss or a crisis of faith.

It reminds us of the humanity of spiritual doubt, love and grief and the challenge of finding our own paths, sometimes away from or back toward our family.

The book is infused with Brisbane icons and streetscapes, something Queenslanders and those interested in Queensland may particularly enjoy.

The God of No Good, by Sita Walker is published by Ultimo Press (36.99).

Author

  • Karina Ames

    Karina Ames’ first novel Lake Warring explored how the Australian landscape reveals our hidden selves. She is working on her second novel Charlie White, based on her experiences as a private investigator.

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