Kumakana: an experiment in YA magical realism

In many senses, Kumakana represents an in-betweenness that is reflected in teenage life. Teenagers sit on the edges of childhood and adulthood, and the thresholds between them are frequently indistinct. This same sensation is true of Kumakana , where Lavender Jensen sits in a liminal space that transcends the reality of being trapped in a scary place and the magical realm of being at one with the animal world. While she has a foot in both, she is never really in one or the other, and this sensation is what gives rise to the book’s magical realism.

The cultural work of Kumakana is achieved through its expression and shaping of the long term effects of colonisation on the south-west Australian landscape, but to do so it needs to draw on life as it might have been prior to the upheaval of invasion. The central theme of the work might be a message to the reader to ‘let go your beliefs’ because it’s in the act of letting go that meaning might be made.

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