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Beth Yahp, The Crocodile Fury

Vagabond Press are proud to re-release Beth Yahp's first novel The Crocodile Fury in 2017.

Set in a convent school on a jungle-covered hill on the outskirts of a Southeast Asian city, The Crocodile Fury follows the fortunes of three generations: the grandmother who was a bonded servant when the convent was a rich man's mansion; the mother who works each day in the convent laundry; and the girl who tells the story. Filled with naughty convent girls, a ‘ghostchasing’ grandmother and stories of mysterious sea creatures and a Lizard Boy who grows into a fierce anti-colonial jungle fighter, Yahp’s novel was first published in Australia in 1992. ‘Serpentine and lithe… distinguished by Yahp's mischievous wit and wondrously spirited storytelling’ (The Age), The Crocodile Fury is also ‘a novel of wonders... rich with magic, secrets, dragons, curses, ghosts and most importantly stories’(Australian Book Review). It won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for First Fiction and the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission Award and has been translated into several languages.

"Yahp skillfully spins a yarn about her native Malaysia. The tale recounts the lives of three generations of women in a family—the narrator, a cloistered convent school girl; the girl's unlucky mother, who does laundry for the convent; and the girl's grandmother, a servant to the rich man who had lived in the mansion that later became the convent. The grandmother stars in this tale, and shares her expertise on the topic of 'ghostchasing', with her granddaughter: 'Never fit your body into the natural curves and hollows of the earth or rocks or trees for these are the resting places of spirits, who won't appreciate being sat on, or coming back to find you there.' Yahp's lyrical novel blends sensory impressions and superstitious lore. While facts are repeated without moving the plot forward and aspects of the plot go unexplained (why is the girl's bullying school pal so important to the grandmother?), the story vividly and rhythmically evokes a society where Eastern traditions continuously clash with those imposed by the West. Muses the girl about her history, "The stories we unearth are like the ruined fountains and garden statues we stumble over, showing only their broken pieces, their missing bits." Publishers Weekly 

'A novel of wonders... rich with magic, secrets, dragons, curses, ghosts and most importantly, stories’ Australian Book Review

'Yahp's storytelling is serpentine and lithe... Stories rise, tease, then slip away, only to resurface later. As the interlocking stories edge forward, together they become a grand narrative front moving to an elaborate choreography... Distinguished by Yahp's mischievous wit and wondrously spirited storytelling of unearthly things.’ The Age

‘Yahp’s first novel is a knock-out.’ Sydney Morning Herald

'A beautiful piece of writing’ The Australian

'A chimera of story spiralling into other stories... blurs the lines between memory and proof, between Gothic Romance and magic realism... Sinewy yet succulent; demanding but rewarding—a book to be relished.’ Scotland on Sunday

‘This rich, evocative and slowly unravelling tale has much of the flavour and style of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If you like them, you’ll love Beth Yahp’s first novel.’ Australian Women’s Forum

‘I’ve gotten word-drunk on Beth Yahp’s The Crocodile Fury... (Its) offbeat sensibilities and the chewiness of language have a marked affinity with E. Annie Proulx’ Seattle Union Record

‘Le projet de Yahp n’est pas d’un historien, mais bien d’un écrivain passionné… L’allégorie, ici, ce sont les spectres, un outil, attesté par toute la littérature fantastique et que l’auteur utilise avec une maîtrise exceptionnelle…cette œuvre considérable et brillamment traduite—(est) une leçon sur l’usage du merveilleux en littérature…’ Le Monde

‘Magnifique premier roman… Beth Yahp déroule ce beau récit à la poésie âpre et violente, mêlé d’humour et de noirceur, gorgé d’images, d’odeurs et de murmures.’ Les Inrockuptibles

Beth Yahp was born in Malaysia and came to Australia in 1984. She has lived in Sydney, Kuala Lumpur and Paris. Her novel The Crocodile Fury won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for First Fiction and the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission Award in Australia, and was translated and published in several European languages. Beth wrote the libretto for composer Liza Lim’s contemporary opera Moon Spirit Feasting, which won the APRA award for Best Classical Composition in 2002. Her short fiction, essays and articles have appeared in Australia, South-east Asia and Europe, and she has edited or co-edited several collections of stories and essays. Beth has taught creative writing for many years, and currently lectures in the Creative Writing program at the University of Sydney. She presented Elsewhere, a radio program for travellers on ABC Radio National (2010-11) and founded the popular Memoir Club at the Randwick Literary Institute in Sydney. Her hybrid memoir Eat First, Talk Later was published by Penguin Random House in 2015.

Beth Yahp, The Crocodile Fury
2017. 416pp. ISBN 978-1-922181-33-6
Release date: July 15.
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