Author(s): Melanie Cheng
By the winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction, 2018.
Since her sister died, Meg has been on her own. She doesn't mind, not really--not with Atticus, her African grey parrot, to keep her company--but after her house is broken into by a knife-wielding intruder, she decides it might be good to have some company after all.
Andy's father has lost his job, and his parents' savings are barely enough to cover his tuition. If he wants to graduate, he'll have to give up his student flat and find a homeshare. Living with an elderly Australian woman is harder than he'd expected, though, and soon he's struggling with more than his studies.
'Melanie Cheng is doing the most difficult, most unfashionable thing: writing about the ordinary lives of ordinary people. Her accomplishment is catching the tremors of their uniqueness and, by underlining this, insisting that everyone is interesting. Being human is in itself extraordinary...This is an impressive and quietly significant book.' Monthly
'My god, this was a joy to read. Every year there's an Australian novel everyone endlessly passes around and recommends because they bloody love it so much, and this is going to be 2019's. Room for a Strangerexplores the high stakes of quiet moments, reveals the beauty of unlikely connections and shows how the antidote to shame is always compassion. After reading this impossible-to-put-down novel, Melanie Cheng is quickly becoming my favourite Australian writer.' Benjamin Law
'Melanie Cheng is an astonishingly deft and incisive writer.' Christos Tsiolkas
Those who enjoyed Cheng's award-winning short story collection Australia Daywill recognise similar themes at play here: the casual racism of white Australia, the human need to belong, and the complexity and compromise inherent in family relationships. Room for a Stranger is an impressive and delicately crafted novel from one of Australia's most talented new voices.' Books+Publishing(starred review)
'Combining these unlikely characters brings up social issues such as racism, how the elderly are perceived and valued, mental illness, and parental pressure. With such rich characterisation and beautiful prose, this is a wonderful, contemporary Australian novel.' Readings
'This is a book with great heart and its gentle unfurling of Meg and Andy's friendship, as well as the nuances of their characters, takes place with empathy and skill. Cheng's real gift as a writer is in this kind of portraiture, in no small part because of her commitment to writing about people who aren't often centred in our stories. Room for a Strangeris a tender and moving book and one that is ultimately life-affirming and full of hope and kindness.' Saturday Paper
'[Room for a Stranger] is beautifully done. Melanie Cheng's unaffected wisdom is just delightful. You never feel she has an axe to grind or an agenda to push. She may not set out to change the world but the warmth of her affection for lonely people will help to do just that.' Michael McGirr, Sydney Morning Herald
Longlisted Miles Franklin Awards 2020
Longlisted ABIA Awards 2020