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Book Review:
Sweetness and Light

Liam Pieper’s latest novel sees two white westerners – an Australian hustler and an American divorcee in an ‘Eat Pray Love’ phase – cross paths in the middle of India. But this is not an exoticised, escapist travelogue.  

Their bisecting stories instead probe the knottier consequences of expats seeking escape in post colonial countries, with some rich commentary on privilege and trauma along the way. 

A conman and fairly reprehensible deadshit, Connor’s seedy diver Dan persona is expertly calibrated to prey upon tourists and affluent, overly trusting women – women like Sasha. But it’s readily apparent that despite boasting slightly cleaner linen, the moneyed yoga retreat circles that Sasha finds herself in have plenty of dirt of their own.

As always Pieper’s prose is affable yet visceral, a trait shared by his memoir Feel Good Hit of the Year and 2016’s The Toymaker

But there’s also a grim empathy to his writing, whether he’s flashing back to impoverished childhoods in a gentrifying New York and a crumbling, deindustrialising Newcastle, or surveying the present-day in an India where western interlopers running from their ‘first world problems’ can be both exploitative, and ripe for exploitation. 

Author: Liam Pieper
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country. His work has appeared in Rip It Up, The Saturday Paper, Smith Journal, Royal Auto, Swampland Magazine, Broadsheet and The Thousands.

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