The only culture I really wanted to explore [in The Piper’s Son] was the inner-west and inner city where I’ve mostly lived for the past fifteen years. The second generation in this novel, who are my age, come predominately from working class catholic backgrounds; they’ve ended up lapsed in their faith and have found themselves in the middle class, questioning who they are, and even arguing about the romantic idea of the working class.
I actually wanted this novel to be culturally non-specific. There was no way the Finch Mackees were going to be a stereotypical Irish catholic family. Both Tom’s friendship group and that of his father’s and Georgie’s are quite similar in their racial mix, and very much like my own family. Apart from a word here or there in a different language I didn’t chose to identify what their ethnic identity was. It’s obvious that Francesca Spinelli has an Italian background, and that Abe and Lucia’s kids are half Italian, half Lebanese, and that Ned the Cook is Anglo, and Mohsin the Ignorer is from Pakistan.
He remembers the times they’d walk toward him in the playground with that same look on their faces. ‘It’s the four horsewomen of the apocalypse,’ Jimmy Hailler would say. ‘They’re going to make us doing something we don’t want to do.’
'We're not going to give in,' Tom would say.
But they did. Always. ‘Think of the alternatives,’ Jimmy said. ‘They love us. Imagine if they hated us.’