Another review for Netgalley November, after a slow start I've read a few so expect more reviews soon!
Set in Australia in 1915, The Ice Cream Army tells the story of Halim, a young Turkish immigrant who arrives in Sydney looking for work and ends up moving to Cottier's Creek, an outback mining town. Here he befriends another Turkish immigrant, Süleyman, the town's ice cream seller and sets up as a Halal butcher for the Muslim enclave known as Ghan Town. However, war in Gallipoli starts to affect Cottier's Creek and the townspeople's attitudes towards the residents of Ghan Town and particularly Halim and Süleyman start to become strained. As the war progresses residents watch anti-Turkish propaganda and men from the town are injured in the conflict, meaning instead of the previous acceptance they received from the Australians the Turks face racial prejudice and violence. Eventually they feel they have no other option and are moved to take devastating action.
The Ice Cream Army is a fictionalised account of "the battle of Broken Hill", when in 1915 two two Turkish men declared war on Australia and attacked a train, killing two of the passengers. It's a raw, touching and frightening account of racism and prejudice and how people can be driven to commit terrible atrocities. Whilst bleak, this is a beautifully written book, empathic towards the Turks and yet still understanding of why the Australians behaved as they did. It reminds us again of the horrors war can drive people to. It's not a book to read if you want a happy ending but it's a story that had me thinking for days after I read it, a superb book.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley and the publishers in return for my honest review.
The Ice Cream Army is published by Legend Press.