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Room for a Stranger

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  16 reviews
By the winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, 2018.

Since her sister died, Meg has been on her own. She doesn’t mind, not really—not with Atticus, her African grey parrot, to keep her company—but after her house is broken into by a knife-wielding intruder, she decides it might be good to have some company after all.

Andy’s father has lost his job, and
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Text Publishing
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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  49 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Looking back now, Meg wished she had talked to people more – not small talk but proper conversations. Discussions about life and death and God and the universe. Instead she’s spent her entire life doing what everyone else seemed to be doing – what she and Helen had, in turn, spent years teaching Atticus to do. Talking without really saying anything.”

Room For A Stranger is the first novel by award-winning Australian author, Melanie Cheng. Homeshare had to be a win-win idea: Meg Hughes would prov
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I went to see the author's panel at Sydney Writer's Festival this year and Christos Tsiolkas, who was facilitating, praised this novel for its quiet splendour (I can't quite remember the exact phrase he used but it's something along that line) and I couldn't agree more! This little unassuming novel was so relatable; it's easy for me to relate to Andy as I was myself an overseas student but I also found myself to be able to relate to Meg, an older Australian lady.

In Room for a Stranger, we have t
Text Publishing
'A tender and touching novel written with a sharp understanding of human nature.’
Who Weekly

'A smart read that highlights the joy of human relationships.’

'Room for a Stranger touches gently on the lives of ordinary people with great dexterity and empathy.’
Harpers Bazaar

‘Combining these unlikely characters brings up social issues such as racism, how the elderly are perceived and valued, mental illness, and parental pressure. With such rich characterisation and beautiful prose, this is a
Jaclyn Crupi
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you want revelations about our shared humanity and our unique difference then you need look no further than Melanie Cheng. This quietly beautiful novel about an elderly woman and the student she welcomes into her home will open you up in ways only good fiction can. I loved Cheng’s Australia Day and awarding it the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for fiction in 2018 and it’s thrilling to read her first novel. It made me smile, it made me cry and it made me think about people in all our mess ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
In my 21 years of living (16 of those in Melbourne) this is the first accurate representation of Australia in literature I’ve ever read. Thank GOD! Can you believe it wasn’t just about the bush? And wildlife? And didn’t say mate 25,000 times? Finally a book that truly shows the beautiful mess of people, cultures, and lifestyles Australia consists of. Where the vast differences between us can sometimes make us feel like strangers, but the things that unite us make us family. Cheng effortlessly co ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I looked forward to reading this and was not disappointed. It was engrossing - I read it in a day. Cheng’s skill in creating nuanced, complex characters and connecting them to her readers is again in evidence. She is expert at portraying both common humanity and cultural difference. The two main characters in this novel are both likeable and flawed. As a reader I empathise and criticise . It is one of her strengths as a writer that readers (this one at least) develop sufficient relationships wi ...more
Giselle A Nguyen
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A tender story of an unlikely Australian friendship. Cheng’s prose flows freely as she unfolds layers of each character, and the novel’s pace is relaxed and easy despite its emotional weight. Some parts seemed a little unrealistic, but overall I loved this.
Melanie Schleiger
A novel that gently draws you in and leaves you wanting more

Melanie Cheng is masterful at creating rich characters and dialogue. I love her cultural observations and social commentary on Melbourne. Highly recommend.
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having been impressed with Cheng's talent for characterisation in her debut collection of short stories, I eagerly awaited her first novel. Here again, the author intimately probes the internal worlds of her main characters, both of them "outsiders" to the external stream of Australian life that surrounds them. This is a tender, but not a maudlin story about the young student from Hong Kong (Andy) and the elderly Meg, whose arrangement to houseshare ultimately makes a difference to their lives.

May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
If you want a gentle drama, this is the book for you. It has lots of good things about it. The two main characters were very different and the way they ‘rubbed up against each other’ was interesting in terms of the disparity of their age, ethnicity and culture. But they had some things in common, like the feeling of being alone in the world. The writing was also gentle and well paced. While the style isn’t gritty realism, it is nonetheless realistic in a suburban sort of way.

Unfortunately it was
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two people, completely different in every way, but both filled with such sadness deep within, find a way to become friends. I see a little of myself in Meg and in Andy. The life of someone growing up in Hong Kong is something I understand, and the culture shock upon first arriving in Australia is something I still remember, despite it being several decades ago. I agree with Benjamin Law. This book is simply a joy to read.
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book touches on so many issues in modern Australia. Racism, ageing, loneliness, the pressure on Asian students( just covered this week on 4 Corners) and dying. Melanie Cheng has a gentle touch. I enjoyed the symbolism of Atticus. My biggest problem was that the book finished, I wanted to keep going with these characters....surely a testament to a good book!
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Megan Maurice
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful, unique book about a strange relationship that I became so emotionally involved in. A lovely, heartwarming read.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A modern masterpiece of Australian literature! A tender book about compassion, empathy & how the secrets that we hold dear to us define us. This book is about the coming together of an older woman, Meg, who is realising that there is very little of value to reflect back on with her life and a young man, Andy, who is struggling to shape his future. Melanie Cheng is masterful and is fast making a name for herself as one of Australia’s most talented writers!
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I am a writer, mum and general practitioner from Melbourne, Australia. I have been published in print and online. My writing has appeared in The Age, Meanjin, Overland, Griffith REVIEW, Sleepers Almanac, The Bridport Prize Anthology, Lascaux Review, Visible Ink, Peril, The Victorian Writer and Seizure. My short story collection, Australia Day, won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Un ...more