Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Details

Bobis, M. C. (2005). Banana Heart Summer. (1 ed.) Millers Point Sydney, NSW: Murdoch Books Australia, 266p.



Research Background
‘Food novels’ are regarded as more popular than serious in contemporary literature. They can be a delightful read but unfortunately have been sidelined by critics as lightweight, because the food trope is often used to narrate romance, family, and domestic concerns. But what if a food novel engages serious social issues, and what if the domestic becomes the playing field of these larger, pressing concerns?

Research Contribution
This is a subversive version of the food novel written to address hunger, poverty, child labour and abuse, and to critique social and economic disparities, corruption and the effects of colonisation. These issues are not ‘hammered in’ but developed organically with the food trope, and engaged in the spirit of play. Food imagery is lushly imagined to highlight hunger in various human engagements. The domestic becomes the arena for tackling bigger issues but without dispensing with pleasure. Pleasure is, in fact, amplified in the text’s lyrical rendition. Story and poetry are distilled in one text, leading a top Philipino critic and writer to consider the book a poem.

Research Significance
The novel was shortlisted for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, nominated for the Best in Foreign Language in Fiction (Manila Critics’ Circle), and received the Philippine Golden Book Award. It was published in Australia (Murdoch Books), the US (Bantam, Random) and the Philippines (Anvil), where it was well reviewed. It was featured in the Asia-Pacific Focus (ABC television program) and taught at universities in the Philippines and the US.