Fish Lips

A powerful love story that moves recklessly back and forth through time to the most intimate meetings of cultures, histories and bodies. Nicholas Jose

Gillian Hindmarsh is an Australian researcher, investigating architectural history in Penang, Malaysia. From a city archive, she souvenirs a photograph of Rose, a young English woman from the 1940s. In Gillian’s imagination, Rose is a black and white romantic fantasy taken from an old forties movie.

Rose, however, was real. She has no family name to identify her. Her ghost is seen from time to time by fisherman in the waters off Georgetown, and in 1982, when disturbed by dredging for a bridge to the mainland, she looks for a body into which to reincarnate. And she wants her lover, Li-tsieng to reincarnate also.

Wang Li-tsieng, the dissolute son of a wealthy Straits Chinese family, returned from the safety of exile in Chile, to be with his English Rose. Shortly after his return, they were killed by a bomb, as they danced in the underwater dining hall of one of the Wang family mansions in Georgetown.

Patrick Dreher, Gillian’s lover, is a dredging engineer who rents a house on Jalan Dunn, where he is disturbed by Rose’s spectral presence. Rose makes a significant choice by allowing herself to be seen by Gillian, in Patrick’s house.fishlips weaves together issues of history and memory, east and west, body and spirit, coloniser and colonised in a fiction that interrogates the ways we order both individual and collective histories to make sense of our own worlds.

In this dark romance, loss and madness hover just below the surface.

September 2001, 200 pp
Paperback, 216 x 138 mm
ISBN 0 9585805 9 6
Literary fiction; First Edition
RRP $aud 22-95
ISBN-13 978 0958580595

The Author
Carolyn van Langenberg grew up in the rural hinterland of the Far North Coast of New South Wales. She has travelled in Southeast Asia and Europe.

Carolyn’s books reflect her background in Australian and English literature, Asian history and creative writing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Mountains.

The fish lips trilogy, set in Malaysia and Australia from the 1940s to the 21st century, looks at three angles on love: heterosexual, homosexual and tortured.

In fish lips, Rose, Li-tsieng’s paramour, becomes a ghost when the Japanese bombed Penang in 1941. Was she ever real?

Fiona Hindmarsh in The Teetotaller’s Wake longs to be back with her new girlfriend during the family ceremonies that follow her mother’s death.

In Blue Moon, urban conservationist Badul Mukhapadai tries to save Penang, Malaysia, from developers and falls in love with the clean air of Byron Bay, Australia, where he consummates his passion for the prickly historian, Gillian Hindmarsh.

The Fish Lips Trilogy…by Carolyn van Langenberg

Fish Lips, 2001
ISBN: 0 95858059 6

The Teetotaller’s Wake, 2003
ISBN: 0 95787358 1

Blue Moon, 2004
ISBN: 1 92078710 0

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