From one of Australia’s most celebrated authors comes a powerful mother-daughter drama that explores the fault lines between love and control, pairing the claustrophobic intensity of Room and My Year of Rest and Relaxation with the youthful angst of Freshwater.
Sixteen and pregnant, Karuna finds herself trapped in her mother’s Melbourne public housing apartment for one hundred days awaiting the birth of her child—and her mother’s next move in a shocking power struggle over who will raise the baby. To fill the seemingly endless hours of her imprisonment, she writes to her unborn child, determined that her baby will know the truth, no matter what happens.
Karuna’s pregnancy is the result of a heady act of independence, lust, and defiance that happened in a moment of freedom from her overprotective mother. In reaction to her daughter’s recklessness, Karuna’s mother locks her inside their apartment to her to make sure she can’t get into any more trouble. While postpartum confinement is a tradition in many cultures, is Karuna’s an act of love—or emotional abuse? As the birth approaches, Karuna and her mother repeatedly trip the fault lines between love and control. And somehow, despite their battles, Karuna recognizes her mother’s love in even the strangest of behaviors.
At times tense and unnerving, One Hundred Days illuminates the pain, confusion, and thrill of growing up and the overwhelming desire of adults to protect the children they
Alice Pung OAM is an award-winning writer based in Melbourne. She is the bestselling author of the memoirs Unpolished Gem and Her Father’s Daughter, and the essay collection Close to Home, and the editor of the anthologies Growing Up Asian in Australia and My First Lesson. Her first novel, Laurinda, won the Ethel Turner Prize at the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, One Hundred Days was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin and Voss literary prizes and longlisted for an ABIA Award in the category of Literary Fiction. Alice was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to literature in 2022.
"A powerhouse story, a powerhouse voice, that wrestles with intragenerational fractures and complicated entanglements. At the center of the book is an obsessive kind of love, a love that gives but also takes, but a love that only forms from bonds forged in fire.” — Weike Wang, award-winning author of Joan Is Okay and Chemistry
"Alice Pung's One Hundred Days is a searingly intimate portrait of a fight for selfhood in a culturally complex family. As much as Karuna Kelly is writing to her baby about to be born, she's also trying to discern who to trust: her controlling mother or her absent father, her well-intentioned but distant teachers or the intrusive government officials who claim to be trying to help? I was riveted by Pung's lyrical prose in which separation is a threat that benefits and wounds at surprising turns." — Jimin Han, author of The Apology and A Small Revolution
"One Hundred Days will break your heart and, in the masterful hands of Alice Pung, put it back together. This is a moving, page-turning, emotional rollercoaster of a novel filled with searing observations, humor, and compassion. I absolutely loved it."
— Tracey Lien, internationally bestselling author of All That’s Left Unsaid
“One Hundred Days is the tale of mothers and daughters the world over – the relationships we navigate, the weight of our histories, and how, no matter the fractures life throws between us, our daughters will always hum us home. Pung’s characters are so real, I could feel them in the room. There is no word out of place, no sentence that doesn’t sing with poetry. This is truly fiction at its fiercest. It is a masterpiece, a triumph—Pung’s greatest work yet.” — Maxime Beniba Clark, author of Foreign Soil and The Hate Race
“A compelling portrayal of the teetering movement from girl to woman ... A modern fairytale for and about those who live in housing commission flats, for those who don’t feel they are worth anything, those who feel like they don’t count.” — Sydney Review of Books (Australia)
“A glorious song of a novel [that] can be savoured by young and old. . . . Pung changes our perceptions and sympathies, building characters with depth and complexity. . . . At its core, this is an uplifting story of a woman defining her own life, knowing that she will give her child the freedom to do the same.” — The Saturday Paper (Australia)
“A legit masterpiece. Funny in all the right places, sob-inducing at the end.” — Benjamin Law, author of The Family Law and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East
“At the core of Pung’s work is a fearless emotional honesty and unapologetic exploration of what it means to be human.” — SBS Voices (Australia)
“One Hundred Days tells a story about growing up, discovering the difference between love and control, and taking responsibility. I loved the details: they spoke of a whole world. How I admired this young, determined protagonist. The book is wonderful; I read it all in one sitting.” — Sofie Laguna, author of One Foot Wrong, The Eye of the Sheep, The Choke, and Infinite Splendours
“Stunning. . . . One Hundred Days is Pung’s best work so far, but know that it will break your heart. . . . It’s here to challenge our perceptions of love, family and culture. It’s here to pull on our heartstrings and have us turn each page faster and faster, desperate to know the ending.” — Arts Hub (Australia)
“What is astounding about One Hundred Days is that, while fearlessly honest about the damage family members can inflict on one another, it is also full of forgiveness and harmony and grace. Pung’s discernment and command as a writer is astonishing, elating. I adore this book.” — Christos Tsioklas, author of Damascus, Merciless Gods, and The Slap
“One Hundred Days is, at heart, a deeply hopeful novel.” — Kill Your Darlings (Australia)
“One Hundred Days can be an uncomfortable read...but Pung’s writing is also infused with humour, warmth and an understanding of what it is to be both mother and daughter.” — Australian Book Review
“I devoured this book – a beautiful, funny, rude, deeply moving story.” — Virginia Trioli, author of Generation F
“A deceptively simple plot under which bubbles the latent power of raw emotional need and complicated love. Pung’s writing is liltingly lovely; every word careful and considered.” — Reading Monthly (Australia)
“Written with Pung’s characteristic verve and attention to detail and dialogue...it offers provocative treatment of the dynamics of control and uneasy acquiescence, of the working-class poor, of cross-cultural relationships, teen pregnancy and second-generation migrants.” — The Age (Australia)
“A thoughtful, finely observed book” — The West Australian