Pink Mountain on Locust Island

By Jamie Marina Lau Brow Books

Monk lives in Chinatown with her washed-up painter father. When Santa Coy—possible boyfriend, potential accomplice—enters their lives, an intoxicating hunger consumes their home. So begins a heady descent into art, casino resorts, drugs, vacant swimming pools, religion, pixelated tutorial videos, and senseless violence.

In bursts of fizzing, staccato and claustrophobic prose, this modern Australian take on the classic hard-boiled novel bounces you between pulverised English, elastic Cantonese and the new dialect of a digitised world.

Jamie Marina Lau

Jamie Marina Lau (劉劍冰) is a twenty-one-year-old writer and musician from Melbourne. Her work can be found in Cordite, ROOKIE, Voiceworks, the Art Hoe Collective and in Monash University’s 2016 anthology Futures. She is currently studying film and literature, producing music, and working on more fiction.

Judges' report

This book is like nothing you have ever read before – a kaleidoscope of colours, smells and fragments of life observed by a teenager in a Chinatown somewhere in an unknown city.

In brilliant and quirky episodic snatches, Jamie Marina Lau tells the troubling story of teenage girl Monk, who lives a claustrophobic life in a small apartment, dominated by a brown couch and a television playing endless repeats of David Attenborough’s documentaries. Her father, a drug-addled former academic, provides little in the way of real or emotional nourishment. Into Monk’s life comes a prospective saviour in the form of nineteen-year-old artist Santa Coy. Monk struggles to find her own identity as Santa Coy is soon engulfed by her father’s fraudulent get-rich-quick art scheme.

Lau’s dizzying prose is like a series of crazy neon-lit performance art as she dissects, with extraordinary effervescence, Monk’s teenage angst, her struggles to fit in with her school friends, their parents, her father and her unhappily married sister.

Reading this book is the literary equivalent of riding a rollercoaster while listening to a virtuoso violin performance by a child prodigy. Simply stunning.

Further reading


‘There is iridescence in this splatter artwork of a novel but, like its cover of light pink splotches against a matt black background, there’s also unknowingness and darkness.’
Thuy On, The Australian

‘Lau’s surreal prose captures the confusion of adolescence in the 21st century. Vivid, inventive descriptions of yum cha, high-school friendships and claustrophobic apartment living evoke the experience of growing up in a diasporic community and the sensory overload of being surrounded by people, yet still alone. A stylish yet moving glimpse into the loneliness of being a teenage girl, Pink Mountain on Locust Island heralds the arrival of an electric new Australian writer.’ Kelsey Oldham, Books+Publishing

Pink Mountain on Locust Island reads like a fever dream or a drug-induced hallucination. Jamie Marina Lau presents a surreal, electronic parable that sweeps us through the confusing hell that is Monk’s life growing up in the digital age.’ Annie Zhang, Honi Soit 


Listen to ‘A Conversation with Jamie Marina Lau’ on The Readings Podcast

Read ‘Working with Words: Jamie Marina Lau’ on The Wheeler Centre

Read ‘Interview #67: Jamie Marina Lau’ on Liminal