Davide A Cottone’s historical fiction novel, Canecutter, is an evocative account of the life journey of Sicilian immigrants to Babinda in North Queensland in the early 1900s.
‘The story revolves around Carmelo who escaped from a poor peasant existence in Italy and from Mussolini’s fascist thugs to begin a new life in Australia.
‘His path was typical of many other European migrants: first the hard life of a canecutter and then, slowly, creating his own farm out of virgin bush.
‘Life was always hard, from the travails to Weil’s disease in the cane which killed many canecutters, and the ignominy of internment by his adopted country, Australia, during the Second World War.
‘The strength of the book revolves around surviving letters to and from Sicily, which provide the core of the narrative, and the sheer resilience of a family who survived many hardships.
‘Davide has written this historical novel of his father’s life with literary flare.’
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‘He has also advanced our understanding of the evolving sugar industry, from its days of human and horse labour through to mechanisation, and of the lives of those who opened the north to agriculture and created a multi-racial society’… Professor Clive Moore, The University of Queeensland.