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A tender horror story, all the more haunting for being so familiar . . . Lau’s voice is cool, precise yet unfailingly human, taking aim at mall culture, work culture and consumer culture, and revealing them as excuses we whisper to ourselves as we lurch slowly towards a luxurious void‘ Roisin Kiberd, author of The Disconnect

‘Jamie Marina Lau’s sensibility is elliptical and it is unique; here is a new existence among the malls of instant consumerism’ Alan Warner

The suburbs of Par Mars. Two shopping centres, rows of estates and thematically designed neighbourhoods.

Twenty-four-year-old Leen is going to open an ear-cleaning and massage studio in the Topic Heights Shopping Centre, taking her mother’s Chinese ritual to the West to bring people back to their bodies.

But something is not quite right in Par Mars. Managers are being attacked, and when Leen befriends Jean Paul, a pharmacist who is obsessed with a cryptic online forum, she finds herself involved in a community that is intent on disrupting the routines of capitalism in increasingly troubling ways.

With a fierce intellect and masterful storytelling, Jamie Marina Lau brings to life a world that is devastatingly close to our own. Taking aim at consumerism and class, orientalism and the Zen movement, violence and middle-class boredom, GUNK BABY is inventive, unforgettable and from a voice younger, newer and more critical than most.

Reviews

Lau's dizzying prose is like a series of crazy neon-lit performance art
The Stella Prize Judges on PINK MOUNTAIN ON LOCUST ISLAND
An original and unforgettable read
COSMOPOLITAN, Best New Fiction Books
Confident, assured and excitingly unique . . . While the ideas are firmly drawn from the real world, Lau deftly uses the dreamy yet tense atmosphere she has created to underscore the horror of the everyday. Readers who enjoyed Ottessa Moshfegh's Homesick for Another World or Yoko Ogawa's The Memory Police will find much to appreciate in Gunk Baby
BOOKS AND PUBLISHING
A dissociative meditation on a world that has come to feel increasingly meaningless, Lau's second novel harks back to an older era of Australian fiction . . . her prose combines the languid torpor of Michael Bible with the unease of Yoko Ogawa's more macabre work . . . She reminds us of the adventurousness that once saw local writers and directors win both sales and critical acclaim . . . Their spirits are sorely missing from the landscape today. Lau is to be commended for keeping them alive
GUARDIAN
The poison of capitalism and consumerism seeps through the pages of Gunk Baby so subtly that the reader barely notices until they are drowning in it . . . A writer of the Zeitgeist, Lau uses a distinctly 'online' voice that speaks to the disconnect of the present generation and to the bleak, capital-driven path humanity took to get there. An audacious, nihilistic novel
AUSTRALIA BOOK REVIEW
A book like this - that doesn't take the expected route, that gambles on a quiet and potentially difficult-to-access protagonist - is a gift . . . Lau's strength as an author shines in this space she has carved out for herself . . . Gunk baby, despite its surreal aura, exposes power structures and daily violence in a way that will make you think about the real world a little deeper
THE MONTHLY
Largely set in the hermetic world of a shopping centre, this clever narrative is cut through with incisive critiques of consumer culture and commentary on the hard work it takes to be in the company of other people. Lau's is an exciting and distinctive voice and Gunk Baby is our Fiction Book of the Month
READINGS Book of the Month
What a novel - as it is formally defined - should be: novel. Lau's talent is in excavating the psyche of her characters and their environments . . . Gunk Baby is the artistic equivalent of an ongoing disintegration, an experimental critique of the absurdities of consumer culture
SATURDAY PAPER
A tender horror story, all the more haunting for being so familiar, Gunk Baby captures the plight of the body - its fragility, its need for connection - in a world of surveillance and synthetic calm. Lau's voice is cool, precise yet unfailingly human, taking aim at mall culture, work culture and consumer culture, and revealing them as excuses we whisper to ourselves as we lurch slowly towards a luxurious void
ROISIN KIBERD, author of The Disconnect
A disorienting and sinister consumerist dystopia. Gunk Baby is the blackest sort of satire on post-industrial anomie, though it has a sharp sense of intellectual playfulness too . . . Fans of Bret Easton Ellis, J.G. Ballard or Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club will lap up the affectless nihilism of Lau's vision: it reopens a peculiar vein of postmodern darkness that seemed to have all but collapsed in Australian fiction
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
A new, detuned world, globalized but specific, casually weird, Jamie Marina Lau's sensibility is elliptical and it is unique; here is a new existence among the malls of instant consumerism
ALAN WARNER
Jamie Marina Lau's style is captivating - you're drawn into the stagnant world of this Australian suburbia, and everything seems bizarre and off in a way that makes you feel constantly uncomfortable
INDEPENDENT