Sylvia Petter’s collection flings the reader across the globe in its bold exploration of love, death, passion, relationship, and family. Echoing her own life experience, Sylvia Petter’s award-winning stories explore universal themes through lenses of distance and separation.
Back Burning spans continents, zooming in on snapshots of relationships from childhood and young love, through adulthood and career, political pursuits and history, to awakening in old age.
Powerful stories of loss and rejuvenation emerge from this patchwork in unexpected ways. ‘I want to tell them about timing, how a new fire can burn once an old one has died. I also want to tell them about back burning and fires that are lit to quell bigger flames.’
Winner, IP Picks 2007, Best Fiction.
Sylvia Petter is certainly one of the raciest and moving writers I have read. These stories are strong and compelling. They vividly portray characters which, when fleshed out are real and devoid of superfluous descriptions. There is a lovely rumbling inevitability of some of these stories, like a raging river running to the sea.
Petter had the benefit of working with Alex Keegan in the UK on his ‘boot camp’- writers’ course of criticism and self-criticism. What better man to work with and this work of Petter’s shows it. It is all very entertaining, as well. ‘The Colour of Haze’ about the Nazis is especially pungent. Every kid knew there was a row back then but didn’t know what it was about. The past can be disturbing for children, too. These are themes that needed to be re-expressed and Petter knows just how to do this to reach a wide audience.
The writing is stark and clear. This is a very passionate book. But so aimed and direct. So Hitler spoilt a whole generation, but they still have the memory and never forget. You will have to get this book, if you can – the internet will get it for you.
– Trevor Reeves, Southern Ocean Review