Review Blog

Nov 05 2019

Turn left at Venus by Inez Baranay

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Transit Lounge, 2019. ISBN: 9781925760408
(Age: Adult) Themes: Utopia, Gender, Old age, Writers and writing, LGBQTI+.
Baranay's story begins in the 1930s with two young girls, who have instantly connected aboard a ship taking migrants from Europe to Australia, but when they land, their families are separated. The two girls, Ada and Leyla, do meet again; it is to be a friendship that continues across the years as each is determined to carve their own life, to do something different. The title Turn left at Venus is an invitation to 'open your mind', go somewhere others have not been. And that is what both girls want to do. Leyla leads a flamboyant life as a dancer always gaining attention, whilst Ada becomes the reticent writer A.L. Ligeti, author of science fiction stories of Utopian planets that challenge ideas about gender, death, and artificial intelligence.
Baranay's book includes excerpts from Ligeti's novels, as well as the social media commentary they provoke. In fact the chat threads could be seen as pre-emptive discussions of Baranay's own writing, where she predicts the criticisms the book might raise, and provides alternative viewpoints for discussion. Is her book a brilliant imagining of a different kind of world, one of freedom, compassion and joy, or is it boring philosophising with not enough story? It's possible there will be readers taking either view. However for the contemplative reader, Baranay's work opens up many interesting ideas to ponder, whilst also painting realistic pictures of close friendships and relationships. The many winding threads come together in a unique work that is both intellectually and emotionally satisfying.
Helen Eddy

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