An astute novel about Australian racism — and about humanity prevailing over entrenched prejudice.Jack Van Duyn is stuck in his comfort zone. A pot-bellied, round-shouldered cabbie in his mid-fifties, Jack lives alone, has few friends, and gets very little out of life. He has a negative opinion of most other people — especially refugees, bankers, politicians, and welfare bAn astute novel about Australian racism — and about humanity prevailing over entrenched prejudice.Jack Van Duyn is stuck in his comfort zone. A pot-bellied, round-shouldered cabbie in his mid-fifties, Jack lives alone, has few friends, and gets very little out of life. He has a negative opinion of most other people — especially refugees, bankers, politicians, and welfare bludgers. Jack doesn’t know it, but his life is about to be turned upside down. A minor altercation in a kids’ playground at an inner-city high-rise estate catapults Jack into a whirlpool of drug-dealing, ASIO intrigue, international piracy, and criminal violence. And he can’t escape, because he doesn’t want to: he’s fallen in love with the beautiful Somali single mum who’s at the centre of it all. The ensuing turmoil propels Jack out of his comfort zone, forcing him to confront some unpleasant truths about himself. After decades in the doldrums, can he rise to the challenge when the heat’s on? Drawing on his many years of experience as a politician at the centre of bitter debates about refugees and multiculturalism, Lindsay Tanner explores the emotional landscape on which these issues are played out. As we follow Jack’s hair-raising journey from crisis to crisis, a powerful plea for tolerance and understanding unfolds — directed at both sides of Australia’s great cultural divide....
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Number of Pages||:||213 Pages|
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Comfort Zone Reviews
Jack van Duyn, a Melbourne taxi driver, is on the job when he steps in to break up an altercation between two kids in a playground of a hise rise apartment complex. What he doesn't realise that he will end up getting involved in drug dealing, national security, and violence. But he does it all for one woman, who he quickly falls in love with.I think the title of this book is quite fitting. Jack is completely thrown out of his comfort zone - going from being an almost recluse to spending time with people socially, and also learns some new things about himself. He puts himself in situations that he normally wouldn't even think about.I felt like I was really part of the story. I could see Jack's world through his eyes. The writing style really draws you in to the book and puts you right in the middle of the story. Living in Melbourne, I could also imagine the locations in the story. The story also touches on some stereotypes, particularly racial stereotypes. The woman that Jack is infatuated with is Somali, and becomes entangled in family and racial issues. I think the book makes some important points, particularly that just because people move away from violence in their country, it doesn't mean they always escape it.Although the ending wasn't exactly a happy one, it did instil a sense of positivity and hope. It shows how one experience or event can completely change someone's life. It opened my eyes a bit more to what other people may be experiencing because of their culture or previous life experiences. I really enjoyed reading this novel!
COMFORT ZONE is the debut novel from Ex Federal Minister for Finance and long-time Labor true believer Lindsay Tanner. Given his background it's not surprising that he's turned his hand to crime writing with an emphasis on societal ills.In COMFORT ZONE his area of special interest is racism. The sort of casual, life-long racism that seems to come from somewhere very lazy / convenient for many. In this case it's middle-aged, sad, pathetic cabbie Jack who embodies that casual rejection of anybody different based on a few simple truths as he sees them. The message is further hammered home because Jack is such a pathetic creature. Single, living in a shitty run down flat, working as a cabbie because that's what he seems to be prepared (in his mind) to "settle for". He drinks in a bit of a rundown old pub with a few less than stellar mates and distracts himself with porn. Until the day that his passenger leaps to the aid of a young Somali kid being beaten up, and Jack is sort of dragged along behind. Straight into the orbit of a beautiful Somalian single mum and love.Needless to say Jack's life is destined to take mysterious turns - what with love and a book filled with Somalian writing leading to drug dealers, ASIO agents, a lot of dashing about in the inner Melbourne traffic and volunteering at a Somali Refugee Assistance Centre.All of which might work as a bit of a caper novel except for a few glaring issues. The characters, as already indicated, come straight from Stereotypical Casting. The plot is less of an advancement of a scenario than it is a progression of minor scuffles signifying a lot of movement but not much actual action, threat or tension. Then there's the central theme - of racism being bad - an obvious and worthwhile undertaking. Although this particular racist is such a caricature, and frankly, if all it takes to solve the world's intolerance problems is a hefty dose of lust, then you can't help thinking we're heading into bigger problem territory.Add to that some truly clunky dialogue and the sense of realism that you'd expect from high farce, but without the comedic element or even the bite, COMFORT ZONE somehow feels too floppy. Well-intentioned undoubtedly, but desperately dull in the execution.https://www.austcrimefiction.org/revi...
I picked this novel up from the 'recently added' section of my local library. I had not heard of the author yet was sufficiently interested by the 'jacket' description of the novel to dive in.As a frequent visitor to Melbourne - the setting for the account of the central character's interactions with members of the Somali community and others from his own 'sub culture'; I really enjoyed this novel. It held my interest and fulfilled my need for a good relaxing read.
What is this about?: A taxi driver, Jack, is comfortable in his life and his routine. Then has an unpleasant encounter that reminds him there's a world to be experienced outside his comfort zone.What else is it about?: Drugs, racism and Australia. That about sums it up, I think.Should you read?: Yes. It's subtle, nuanced writing that doesn't hit you over your head with its social commentary.Stars: 3.5/5The thing with social commentary is finding a balance between your story and whatever you're trying to highlight. Here, in Comfort Zone, Lindsay Tanner manages to find that balance and write a story about a man set in his ways and thinking before he suddenly finds himself embracing change.A big part of the attraction to this novel was the author, Lindsay Tanner. He's a former minister of the Australian government and I was interested in a politician's view on the things going in Australia right now.Jack is a taxi driver, whose days are pretty routine. He complains about Somali taxi drivers and anything else he wants. However, one day he and a passenger, Matt, break up a school yard fight and he meets Farhia, a beautiful Somali woman. She is the mother of two of the boys being bullied, and so begins his infatuation with her.Jack doesn't quite understand it himself -- he's a casual racist, and doesn't think much of swearing at Somalian drivers and anyone else who aren't White. He lives and breathes stereotypes, even to Matt, the investment banker passenger.To him, Farhia is out of his league and mysterious, but still makes a valiant attempt to insert himself into her life in his clumsy way. As a result, he finds himself drawn into something entirely unexpected: an international conspiracy, in the sights of ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) all because he tried to help Farhia.Matt, his passenger, plays a far more interesting role in the story than his first appearance would suggest. He's another reason/avenue that pulls Jack out of his comfort zone into caring and thinking about other people. Jack isn't quite sure why he wants to help Matt, and puts it down to Farhia's influence.Another strength to this story is the addition of a colourful secondary cast of characters that are peppered through the book and Jack's life, who all provide an interesting look at Melbourne.Jack's story isn't big and flashy, though it does have its fair share of action-y moments as he's dodging ASIO, Somali gangs and drug dealers. But, there's strength in Jack, in his quiet moments as he starts to think about his life, about Farhia and he realises how much he wants to change.When I started the story, I genuinely believed there would be a relationship with Jack and Farhia, but as I continued through the book I realised that the reality of this love story is that it's in Jack's head. This is a story about how it's never too late to change -- whether it's Jack or Australia.
The message is great, bless it's wee cotton socks. The writing, not so much. But the simplistic nature of this book might just be what some people need to at least start attempting to overcome their mountain of prejudice. It's would a crack, right?
Jack van Duyn is a single, middle-aged, white taxi driver working Melbourne's inner suburbs. One day he picks up an investment banker, Matt, who notices some Somali boys being beaten up. Jack and Matt go to the rescue, but get more than they bargained for before the fight is finally broken up.Despite his casual racism, Jack is immediately smitten by the boys' mother, Fahria. He finds a book with Somali writing at the scene and decides to use it as a means of getting to know her better, despite feeling that starting a relationship with a young Somali woman is taking him outside his comfort zone. Meantime Matt starts to involve Jack in some less than savoury activities, and an ASIO agent hassles Jack about the book; very much outside his comfort zone.The novel is essentially a caper story using the Somali book as a maguffin to propel the plot. There are very few if any surprise twists and turns as Tanner walks Jack through the increasingly uncomfortable consequences of his intervention in the fight.The problem is that this plot is scarcely believable. Even the author's narration describes at as absurd, and it is. There are just way too many unlikely events happening to this inoffensive Aussie bloke, and far too many unlikely developments. As a Melbournian, I got a kick from reading a story set in streets and buildings that I'm familiar with, but I'm afraid that was not enough.Before turning his hand to writing, Lindsay Tanner was a politician, a Federal Minister for Finance, and a man with decades of experience as a factional warrior. When such a man turns his hand to crime writing, I think we're entitled to anticipate something deeper, darker and more challenging than this routine vapidity. A great opportunity missed.
I've always admired Lindsay Tanner. He was one of Australia's most thoughtful politicians, with an all-too-rare combination of intellect and integrity.He was also one of the few modern MPs to write, penning a number of non-fiction books over the years about politics, policy and the media.Comfort Zone is his first foray into fiction. It's a valiant attempt at a politically-charged crime thriller that sadly misses the mark.The story revolves around Jack, a middle-aged Melbourne cabbie with a sad and empty life. He's a casual racist who - after inadvertently getting entangled with the underworld - finds himself falling in love with a Somali migrant. A man who's life once consisted of porn and pubs is soon dealing with pirates and drug dealers and ASIO agents.It sounds juicer than it is.Unfortunately the story has none of the intrigue or mystery or tension integral to the crime genre. The plot plods along from one minor scuffle to another but the stakes never feel high, the characters never truly threatened. The prose is never outright bad but it's frequently clunky, particularly the dialogue. Tanner's striving for realism but his writing has no bite, no grit.He tries to elevate the novel with weighty themes of ignorance and multiculturalism. But the core message - racism is bad - feels both belaboured and half-hearted. Tanner has none of the rage that fuelled Richard Flanagan's The Unknown Terrorist for example, a book with which Comfort Zone shares some superficial similarities.Hard to recommend.DISCLAIMER: I was supplied a copy of Comfort Zone by the publisher, Scribe.
What this novel points out very clearly is how very rarely most of us do things outside our comfort zone. Actually our hero Jack Van Duyn wouldn't have got outside his if it hadn't been for his passenger who really dragged him into it. They intervened when some older kids were attacking some young Somali children in a playground. Jack finds himself attracted to the boy's mother and going out of his way to help her. But that lands him in a heap of trouble.There is a comic vein to this novel but at the same time a serious look at some contemporary Australian social issues. That is where the author's knowledge and awareness stand him in good stead.Jack finds himself hunted by ASIO who say he is consorting with a possible terrorist, as well as being potentially involved in drug running. He is very attracted to the young Somali widow and finds himself going out of his way to help her. By the end of the novel he recognises that his life has been changed.Jack also knows some interesting "fixers" who help solve his problems. To use a common idiom, Jack isn't the sharpest knife in the box, but he is a nice man, even if he is a bit of a slob. I found his character growing and my sympathy for him expanding as the novel developed.I am not sure the novel is really crime fiction, but maybe it is on the outer edges of the genre - crimes are certainly committed. Part of the story is about how our refugee populations bring with them problems that can't simply be solved by the act of coming to a new country.A pretty quick and interesting read.
It pains me to be so dismissive of a novel – I know how much work goes into writing one. I’m wondering why Lindsay bothered. ‘Comfort Zone’ is about a taxi driver in his 50s – Jack. He’s a bit of a loser, living a quietly pathetic life in a flat in the inner north of Melbourne. Several reviewers have praised Tanners depiction of these inner suburbs but he is no Shane Maloney.Tanner is interested in exploring attitudes about race within a crime story construct. Frankly, both were lame efforts. Jack meets and is attracted to a beautiful but enigmatic Somali woman. His previously bigoted attitudes fall away a bit as he (sort of) gets to know her but it’s a little didactic. At the same time, he gets tangled up in some weirdo drug story but that part of the book totally lacks credibility. Seriously, how did this get published?
Jack's life and prejudices are turned upside down after a chance encounter with a Somali woman. His totally boring life is transformed as he stumbles from one crisis to the next, often with violent consequences. His character is so real, you expect to meet him next time you hail a taxi. His world is a mixture of bleakness, low expectations and lost opportunities. However, undiscovered till now, he finds a "nice" gene hidden away and it brings him to life again. This is a great Aussie yarn with characters you can really relate to and great descriptions of the suburbs and taxi culture.