Seesaw – Carmel Doohan
When life gets hard, what will you do to the Other to protect yourself?
Boats are sinking in the Mediterranean, and Siobhan begins work at a night shelter for asylum seekers. At the same time she is coping with the fallout of her relationships with an identical twin sister, an ex-girlfriend, and a boyfriend with whom she can no longer have sex. As political conflicts escalate she begins to recognise the destructive, zero-sum dynamic she learned in childhood and is forced to acknowledge her own violent logic of self-preservation.
Drawing on cinematic montage, the narrative renders fragments of memory, experience and observation in a pattern of shifting analogies that work to illuminate the possibility of a less binary world.
‘In its intimate and dazzling constellation of anecdote and memory, Seesaw’s form seems to be exquisitely composed by the very alliances of correspondence, analogy and sympathetic magic that its narrator dare not believe in. Siobhan’s struggles speak to an existential and political urgency: how does anyone keep balance while seesawing between the personal and the collective, past and present, brutality and hope, the authentic and the algorithm? Seesaw’s brilliance is its refusal to settle easily on either side, all the while reminding us that the middle ground should be more than just an idea – it should be capable of sustaining life.
‘I know that this novel, and its searching, unafraid narrator, will stay with me for a long time.’
– Daisy Lafarge