William ‘Billy’ Sing was born in 1886 to an English mother and Chinese father. He and his two sisters were brought up in Clermont and Proserpine, in rural Queensland. He was one of the first to enlist in 1914 and at Gallipoli became famous for his shooting prowess.

In his new novel, Billy Sing (Transit Lounge $27.95), Ouyang Yu embodies Sing’s voice in a magically descriptive prose that captures both the Australian landscape and vernacular. In writing about Sing’s triumphant yet conflicted life, and the horrors of war, Yu captures with imaginative power what it might mean to be both an outsider and a hero in one’s own country. The telling is poetic and realist, the author’s understanding of being a Chinese-Australian sensitively informs the narrative. The result is a short novel of great beauty and is arguably one of Ouyang’s finest works to date.

Author Ouyang Yu was born in Huangzhou, China. Since arriving in Australia in 1991, Yu has commenced an extraordinarily prolific literary career as a poet, critic, translator, editor and novelist. His award-winning fiction includes The Eastern Slope Chronicle and The English Class. He is also well known for his fine command of poetic craft and his poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and newspapers, and have been frequently anthologised. His many poetry books include Self Translation and Fainting with Freedom.