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The Choke

Sofie Laguna
Publisher: Aardvark Bureau
28th March 2019

Heartbreaking and hopeful, brutal and tender, The Choke is an exquisitely written coming-of-age story; a haunting portrait of a child navigating an unforgiving adult world by award-winning writer, Sofie Laguna. 

1973. The rugged, isolated Australian outback – and neglect – is all 10-year-old Justine has ever known. Raised by her grandfather, Pop, a man scarred by war, Justine finds solace in the staggering beauty of the narrow stretch of the nearby Murray River known as ‘the Choke’, and the occasional company of her half-brothers.

Justine is a shy, often silent observer of her chaotic world and when unexpected friendship comes in the form of another outsider, Michael, she learns for the first time what ‘family’ really means. But as the years pass and secrets are undone, tensions within Justine’s community rise and her natural sanctuary is threatened.

Exposed to a devastating world of toxic masculinity, Justine is left to navigate the final years of her precarious childhood alone. She must find ways to endure, to run when she has to, and, ultimately, to fight back…

Praise for The Choke 

Winner of the 2018 Australian Indie Award for Best Novel 
Winner of the 2018 Australian Literary Gold Medal 
Shortlisted for the 2018 Australian Book Industry Award 
Longlisted for the 2019 Dublin Literary Award

“From the moment The Choke begins, a slingshot’s elastic is precisely, steadfastly being pulled back… and the stone Laguna lets fly ricochets inside you for days afterwards.” – Sydney Morning Herald.

The Choke is emotionally intense, deeply engaging and quietly haunting.” – Books + Publishing 

“Full of richly drawn characters, with a dialogue that crackles and a narrative that draws you right in. Beauty and ugliness sit squatly side by side.” – The Big Issue Australia

The Choke [is] every bit as masterful and devastating as [Miles Franklin Award winner] The Eye of the Sheep, as well as being utterly addictive.” – The Herald Sun

“Justine is vivid and unique… Laguna’s brilliance is in the immersive empathy the reader feels for her.” – The Saturday Paper

About the Author

Sofie Laguna studied to be a lawyer before taking up acting then writing. Sofie has written acclaimed books for young people which have been published worldwide. Her second novel for adults, The Eye of the Sheep, won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Her first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. The Choke is Sofie’s third adult novel. She lives in Melbourne with her illustrator husband and two sons.