Book review: Troppo by Madeline Dickie

Troppo’s  anti heroine Penny, a drifting, travelling surf chick, lands a job in a remote Indonesian town. This is a country she knows from her teenage years, which offered her a place for maturing when she needed it.

But things are changing in Penny’s safe haven with people’s opinion changing. The remote town’s inhabitants, locals and foreigners alike, have developed a bad taste for Penny’s employer. His questionable reputation makes him a target for erupting unrest in which Penny is inevitably caught up in.

Troppo is Madeline Dickie’s debut novel with characters, flawed, charming, naive and idealistic who work their way against a backdrop of clashes of cultures on so many levels: modernism, religion, feminism. Dickie masters to intricately weave these into her nail-biting story of a woman trying to work out life.

Dickie tackles a big topic of how developing countries cope with industrialisation and religious radicalisation and provides a peek into what this may look like on an individual level. Yet, there is nothing heavy nor patronising about Penny’s search for a home.

This is a timely must read. Dickie has mastered creating a tension that makes it impossible to put this book down and it is an impressive TAG Hungerford award winner.