No More Boats was a finalist in The Miles Franklin, The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and The Voss Prize.
It is 2001. 438 refugees sit in a boat called Tampa off the shoreline of Australia, while the TV and radio scream out that the country is being flooded, inundated, overrun by migrants. Antonio Martone, once a migrant himself, has been forced to retire, his wife has moved in with the woman next door, his daughter runs off with strange men, his deadbeat son is hiding in the garden smoking marijuana. Amid his growing paranoia, the ghost of his dead friend shows up and commands him to paint ‘No More Boats’ in giant letters across his front yard. The Prime Minister of Australia keeps telling Antonio that ‘we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’. Antonio’s not sure he wants to think about all the things that led him to get on a boat and come to Australia in the first place. A man and a nation unravel together. It is exciting to read a work of fiction that makes an explicit connection between its characters’ personal narratives and the specific events of political history; a tradition in American fiction, but rare in an Australian context. (Delia Falconer)
The Incredible Here and Now has won The Prime Minister’s Literature Award (YA) and been shortlisted for, The NSW Premier’s Literature Awards, The WA Premier’s Book Awards and The Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Award. It was adapted for the stage in 2017 and has been published as a play by Currency Press.
Michael’s older brother dies at the beginning of the summer he turns 15, but as its title suggests The Incredible Here and Now is a tale of wonder, not of tragedy. Presented as a series of vignettes, in the tradition of Sandra Cisneros’ Young Adult classic The House on Mango Street, it tells of Michael’s coming of age in a year which brings him grief and romance; and of the place he lives in Western Sydney where ‘those who don’t know any better drive through the neighbourhood and lock their car doors’, and those who do, flourish in its mix of cultures. Through his perceptions, the reader becomes familiar with Michael’s community and its surroundings, the unsettled life of his family, the girl he meets at the local pool, the friends that gather in the McDonalds parking lot at night, the white Pontiac Trans Am that lights up his life like a magical talisman. Suitable for young readers from 14 years of age.
A traveller becomes a Monroe impersonator in the casinos of Macau. An obsessive son of Australians living in Jakarta confronts his strange rituals. A young woman is trapped in the boredom of her father’s ministry in exotic Borneo. A daughter defies her mother and travels to Bali.
Castagna’s twenty stories range across countries: including Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China, deftly exploring the relationships of parents and children, lovers and enemies, the transient and the resident. In the spirit of Rattawatt Lapacharoensap’s Sightseeing, Castagna’s fiction powerfully captures the landscapes and cultures of Asia and the intriguing interactions of Westerners with it