'It’s the Great Depression. Six-year-old PS is an orphan. He lives in Sydney with his Aunt Lila. But all that is about to change. Now his Aunt Vanessa has decided to take proper care of him.
'Careful, He Might Hear You is one of the most extraordinary portraits of childhood in Australian fiction.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)
Set in the Depression, the story follows the bitter struggle between two sisters over the custody of their orphaned nephew. Each determined to have the boy, both women resort to deceitful manipulation and cruel lies.
'Like many mid-century authors, Sumner Locke-Elliott fled Australia for more welcoming shores. From his first novel Careful He Might Hear You (1963), Locke-Elliott laid the foundations for a fictional self-authorship that suffused his writing with biographic detail and themes of origin, place and time. Despite his long absence from Australia and his naturalisation as an American citizen, his final novel and fictional coming out in Fairyland (1990) returns readers to the homophobic Sydney of his childhood. This blurring of biographic and fictional detail within the representational space of childhood creates an embodied literary network that connects Australia of the 1930s & 1940s and New York of the 1980s & 1990s, merging literary corpus and authorial life. Taking up this sense of presence, absence and connection, I argue that Locke-Elliot’s representation of childhood is a nostalgic point of interface that generatively refigures his oeuvre as an embodied queer and transnational literary network.' (Publication abstract)