The Fish Girl

By Mirandi Riwoe
Seizure


Mirandi Riwoe

Judges' report


Mirandi Riwoe’s novella, The Fish Girl, packs a punch. A subversive postcolonial work of fiction, Riwoe inverts the white colonial gaze informing the portrayal of the ‘Malay trollop’ who causes serious divisions among shipmates in W. Somerset Maugham’s short story ‘The Four Dutchmen’. Compelling and evocative, The Fish Girl follows Mina, a shy Indonesian village girl who commences work in the kitchen of a Dutch merchant, only to discover her life continuing to unfold at the mercy of men who do not necessarily have her best interests in mind. The story draws on Sundanese mythology, with Mina finding solace in visiting a nearby beach at night, where she communes with the Ocean Queen, Nyai Loro Kidul, a goddess of the sea. Demonstrating mastery in economical storytelling, The Fish Girl is an immersive and deeply affecting literary gem from a powerful emerging voice in Australian fiction.

Further reading


Reviews

‘The Fish Girl brings Mina to life—in fact gifts her a life that the source material denies, a life in all its rich, beautiful, sensory detail; this is a short novella at 97 pages, but it packs in a lot, giving Mina a voice, and a much more realistically-told version of the ending, an ending that will break your heart and remain with you for a long time.’ Damon Young, All the Novellas