One side of the street glittered like a brilliant eruption with the light from a row of shops; the others, lined with houses, was almost deserted, for the people, drawn like moths by the glare, crowded and jostled under the lights.
It was Saturday night, and Waterloo, by immemorial habit, had flung itself on the shops, bent on plunder. For an hour past a stream of people had flowed from the back streets into Botany Road, where the shops stood in shining rows, awaiting the conflict…
One of the first great novels about Sydney, Jonah is the story of two larrikins: the unforgettable Joe Jones – known as Jonah – and Chook.
Jonah, born a hunchback, is feared and revered in equal measure as the ruthless leader of the Push, a violent gang that terrorises the slums of Waterloo. Chook, a fellow member of the Push, is Jonah’s loyal best friend.
But after a chance encounter with his son, the result of a casual affair, Jonah decides to abandon the larrikin life and settle down. He marries Ada, the mother of his child, and takes advantage of an opportunity to open his own business.
Chook, too, leaves the Push and finds love in the arms of factory worker, Pinkey. But can either man escape his awful past?
Contrasting the sordid streets of the inner suburbs with the glittering lights of the harbour city, Jonah is a brilliant evocation of Sydney life at the turn of the century.