Nominated by:

The National Library of Australia, Canberra

LINC Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

The State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Publisher of nominated edition:

Allen & Unwin, Australia

The Choke

Sofie Laguna      

A mesmerising, harrowing and ultimately uplifting novel from the 2015 Miles Franklin winner. Winner of the 2018 Indie Book Award for Fiction!

‘I never had words to ask anybody the questions, so I never had the answers.’

Abandoned by her mother and only occasionally visited by her secretive father, Justine is raised by her pop, a man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop’s chooks and The Choke, where the banks of the Murray River are so narrow it seems they might touch – a place of staggering natural beauty. But the river can’t protect Justine from danger. Her father is a criminal, and the world he exposes her to can be lethal.

Justine is overlooked and underestimated, a shy and often silent observer of her chaotic world. She learns that she has to make sense of it on her own. She has to find ways to survive so much neglect. She must hang on to friendship when it comes, she must hide when she has to, and ultimately she must fight back.

The Choke is a brilliant, haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power and violence, in which grown-ups can’t be trusted and comfort can only be found in nature. This compassionate and claustrophobic vision of a child in danger and a society in trouble celebrates above all the indomitable nature of the human spirit.

About the author

Sofie Laguna, winner of the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award for The Eye of the Sheep, once again shows she is a writer of rare empathy, originality and blazing talent. She won the 2018 Indie Book Award for Fiction for The Choke and her second novel for adults, The Eye of the Sheep – shortlisted for the Stella Prize – won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, published throughout Europe, the US and the UK, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Sofie’s many books for young people have been published in the US, the UK and in translation throughout Europe and Asia. She has been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Award, and her books have been named Honour Books and Notable Books by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Sofie lives in Melbourne with her husband, illustrator Marc McBride, and their two sons.

Librarians’ comments:

The Choke has seen high acclaim since it’s release, winning the Indie Book Award 2018. Louise Swinn in the Australian newspaper wrote ‘it is quite a feat to write characters with such nuance…Laguna is an author proving the novel is a crucial document of the times.’

The Choke was selected by Victorian public librarian vote from a list of nominations complied by State Library Victoria.

Nominated by a staff member (cataloguer ) who describes The Choke as “haunting and evocative, a thoroughly griping and uplifting tale”.

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