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Back Burning


What they said:

In simple, direct and compelling language, the stories reward the reader with a variety of distinct and memorable experiences: from the complexities of love (and unfaithfulness) to those of history and the way it treats, mistreats and selects its victims, building its ironies on the accidents of race, nationality, personality, place and parentage. With its broad geographical span and array of venues, this book would make a fine companion for a journey. Not only does it entertain; it makes you think, it makes you feel, it makes you appreciate the humanity of its many characters.
– Thomas E. Kennedy, Advisory Editor, The Literary Review

Sylvia Petter is a cartographer of dislocated lives. With compassionate precision, she charts the detours, the disruptive incursions of passion, loneliness and loss, the ever-shifting conceptions of home and of the self. Her characters are always on the move through complicated terrain, and the journey is richly rewarding for the reader.
– Janette Turner Hospital

Sylvia Petter is certainly one of the raciest and moving writers I have read. These stories are strong and compelling. They vividly portray characters which, when fleshed out are real and devoid of superfluous descriptions. There is a lovely rumbling inevitability of some of these stories, like a raging river running to the sea. Petter had the benefit of working with Alex Keegan in the UK on his ‘boot camp’- writers’ course of criticism and self-criticism. What better man to work with and this work of Petter’s shows it. It is all very entertaining, as well. ‘The Colour of Haze’ about the Nazis is especially pungent. Every kid knew there was a row back then but didn’t know what it was about. The past can be disturbing for children, too. These are themes that needed to be re-expressed and Petter knows just how to do this to reach a wide audience. The writing is stark and clear. This is a very passionate book. But so aimed and direct. So Hitler spoilt a whole generation, but they still have the memory and never forget. You will have to get this book, if you can – the internet will get it for you.
– Trevor Reeves, Southern Ocean Review

Sylvia Petter’s second collection is storytelling at its best. Each story presents a mini-world complete in itself—with real-to-life characters, heart-aching situations, and “visions of wings”. Petter takes the reader for a fast moving, eclectic tour around Europe, and back and forth to Australia. Crossing cultures with every page, and shifting between generations, Petter slowly builds a world of human goodness and trust in the midst of shadows. The reader is won over by Petter’s sharp wit, polished craft and honesty. Bravo for this tour de force.
– Susan M. Tiberghien, author of One Year to a Writing Life

Back Burning
IP Picks Best Fiction 2007

Sylvia Petter’s collection flings the reader across the globe in its bold exploration of love, death, passion, relationship, and family.

Echoing her own life experience, Sylvia Petter’s award-winning stories explore universal themes through lenses of distance and separation.

Back Burning spans continents, zooming in on snapshots of relationships from childhood and young love, through adulthood and career, political pursuits and history, to awakening in old age.

Powerful stories of loss and rejuvenation emerge from this patchwork in unexpected ways.

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