As the Lonely Fly
The book about my grandfather’s sister Lisa took a full quarter century to see the light of day, after I’d given up hope it would ever be published. I’d interviewed people on my travels who’d known Lisa or a good deal about her, but apart from her letters I couldn’t access any documentation. The archives in one place was closed, a fixer in another sent me on a wild goose chase, and so it went. The manuscript I came up with was a meld of fact and fiction – at odds with the direction publishing was taking at the time. Penguin took one look at it and cancelled my contract. I decided then to make it a novel, yet after many redrafts, when I still couldn’t find a publisher, my agent told me to look for a small press prepared to take the risk with a novel that raises important questions about Israel. Jennifer McDonald of For Pity Sake was just such a publisher, and a dedicated, caring, fun one at that.
As the Lonely Fly explores the lives of two sisters and their niece after their separate flights from Russia and spans the three continents I’d travelled to. Clara, the character based on Lisa and who lies at the core of the novel, leaves for Palestine in 1922. Around the same time, her younger sister Miriam migrates to America. A few years later Zipporah, their niece, follows Clara to Palestine. The book has been described by one generous reader as ‘a work that unfolds with beauty and depth, magnificently imagined, sweeping in its scope and scale, like a classic Russian novel.’
In 2017, when As the Lonely Fly was released, it wasn’t widely reviewed – after 25 years since Digging came out, my profile scarcely existed. Still, the review syndicated in the Fairfax papers and quoted from here, has made me feel that all the work was worth it.
As the Lonely Fly is available on Kindle and in hardback from Amazon, and in hardback from Booktopia.
” … a novel that adroitly eludes the many pitfalls presented by its subject matter … Dowse reminds us that social justice remains a persistent and powerful force. The work might be Dowse’s best, and certainly it represents a tour de force. Like the crane on the cover, the book soars.”
‘This arresting book offers perspective of the Arab-Israeli conflict through the eyes of three Russian-Jewish women who end up on different sides of the fence, literally. Their words and emotions shine a light on a dark landscape.’
The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, Australian jurist
‘Twenty-five years in the making, As the Lonely Fly represents the distillation of Sara Dowse’s talent. This is writing of international importance.’ Robert Hefner, Literary Editor, Canberra Times, 1988-2000