The Light on the Water
March 13, 2016 — 0:32

Author: Dorothy Johnston  Category: Australian literature fiction writing  Comments: 5

Article Lead - narrow1006523352gn9a38image.related.articleLeadNarrow.353x0.gn9ae0.png1457661030554.jpg-300x0


My review of Olga Lorenzo’s The Light on the Water was published in the Fairfax newspapers this weekend. As usual, when posting about a newspaper review, I’m not going to repeat the points I make about the novel, but, this time, add some information about the author’s life.

Olga Lorenzo was born in Cuba a month after the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. Her family left Havana for Miami when she was not quite three years old on one of the ‘Freedom Flights’.

‘It was terrible,’ Lorenzo says. ‘There were no refugee programs in place in Miami. We moved to what was called Little Havana, and everyone was speaking Spanish around me, so it wasn’t a cultural transition. The shock was that I had no toys, we had no clothes, there was no food, we had no furniture.’

When she was 22, Lorenzo moved to Australia and finished her undergraduate degree at Melbourne University, where she later went on to do a Masters and a PhD in creative writing. She currently teaches creative writing and has also worked as a journalist and sub-editor for the Melbourne Age.

Her first novel, The Rooms in My Mother’s House, published in 1996, though clearly fiction, draws largely on her family’s experiences. Twenty years on, The Light on the Water tackles very different subject matter, but with Lorenzo’s hallmark compassion and skill.

Thanks to Sydney Morning Herald literary editor, Susan Wyndham, for  mentioning my forthcoming novel, Through a Camel’s Eye, at the end of my review.

‘Dorothy Johnston’s novel Through a Camel’s Eye will be published in April by For Pity Sake.’




Through a Camel’s Eye will be launched on April 23rd at the Vue Grand Hotel in Queensciff. Hope to see you there!


20160301 DJ Flyer Meet the Author FINAL



  • I read your review yesterday and was intrigued. Have requested it from the library. How interesting that it’s 20 years since her first book. I wonder if she’s been working on it for a long time or just wasn’t ready to start another one till more recently? Looking forward to your launch!

    March 13, 2016 — 2:44
  • Yes, 20 years is certainly a long time between drinks. I don’t know the reason. It’s not in any of the biographical information I looked up. I’m glad you’re looking forward to the launch – should be good fun.

    March 13, 2016 — 6:41
  • You’ve solved a mystery Dorothy! My reading group has a little blog where we write up reports of our meetings, and where I also have created a page listing all the books we’ve read. There are a few gaps in that list – mostly of them during the three years when I lived in the US and no-one kept records of what we read. However, there was one gap in the list from after my return, because for some reason it hadn’t been listed on the printed schedule I used to circulate. This review of Olga Lorenzo caught my attention because I was sure I’d read her before. I little sleuthing, and sure enough we read The rooms in my mother’s house in 1999! I’m thrilled to have one more gap plugged. I remember that we enjoyed the book, having read a few books over the years about migrants and migration but the Cuban story is not a common one told here.

    June 20, 2016 — 8:06
  • admin

    I agree about the Cuban story not being a common one in so far as migrants to Australia are concerned. I will follow up your review.

    June 22, 2016 — 6:45
    • Oh no, I didn’t review that one as I read it way before blogging, unfortunately.

      June 25, 2016 — 7:23
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *