In her autobiography "White Métisse," Kim Lefèvre writes of her childhood and adolescence as the child of an unknown French father and a Vietnamese mother in Indochina and later Viet Nam. Being a métisse child during the turbulent period of rising nationalism, resistance to colonial power and war in Indochina, she becomes the unknowing lightning rod for the enmity directed at the French and those who collaborated with them.
"I feel my passions are forever pulling me in different directions, each tying and severing themselves from me of their own free will. Writing fiction is the only way I’ve been able to track these flippant passions and preserve them in some way."
Fantasy is about what we might have or could have inherited and the specific grief of disinheritance as well as a fear of losing cultural memory and identity. It’s a type of existential horror that Schreiber writes about and, like any horror story, there’s a feeling of dread that what haunts us will continue despite the story’s ending.
"Given the current debates about representation in literature, I find myself reflecting on how I have always preferred books to be windows rather than mirrors. I was a voracious reader from a young age but growing up I didn’t particularly yearn for stories about what it meant to be Vietnamese – especially in Australia – because I was already drowning in the experience of it."
"Coconut Children" is a coming-of-age story about a cohort forever uneasy with itself and others. A generation that was taken from Vietnam before it could lay roots, and then transplanted to a land where the soil was rich but alien, never quite nourishing.