The Honeyeater, the new novel by Australian author Jessie Tu

1 July 2024

Cover image of The Honeyeater, the new novel by Jessie Tu.

The Honeyeater is the second novel by Sydney based Australian writer Jessie Tu, and will be in bookshops on Tuesday 2 July 2024. That’s tomorrow.

I read Tu’s 2020 debut A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing almost four years ago. It was the story of a once child prodigy musician, who wasn’t always successfully navigating life as a twenty-something adult. It often made for difficult reading. In contrast, The Honeyeater seems more like a thriller:

Young academic and emerging translator Fay takes her mother on a package tour holiday to France to celebrate her birthday. It’s a chance for the two of them to take a break from work and have a little fun, but they both find it hard to relax. Her mother seems reluctant to leave their room in the evening, and Fay is working on a difficult translation. On their last night in France, Fay receives the shattering news that her former lover has suddenly died.

Back in Sydney, Fay seeks solace from her mentor, Professor Samantha Egan-Smith, who offers her a spot at a prestigious translation conference in Taipei. But can she trust her? Does the Professor know more than she is admitting, or is Fay being paranoid? When a shocking allegation is made, Fay chooses to keep it secret. Is she protecting the Professor or exercising power over her?

Fay arrives at the conference in Taipei. Career opportunities abound, but it’s ghost month in Taiwan. Her mother had begged her not to go at that time, warning that she would be susceptible to dangers and threats. And there is almost nothing a mother won’t do to protect her child.

And coincidentally, Tuesday 2 July 2024 is also when the shortlist for Australian literary prize, the Miles Franklin, will be announced. Not that The Honeyeater will feature on that list, though who knows, it may in 2025.


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