The Art of Belonging advances the argument put forward in Mackay’s bestselling The Good Life: a ‘good life’ is not lived in isolation or in the pursuit of independent goals; a good life is lived at the heart of a thriving community, among people we trust, and within an environment of mutual respect.
Drawing on 50 years’ experience as a social researcher, Mackay creates a fictional suburb, Southwood, and populates it with characters who – like most of us – struggle to reconcile their need to belong with their desire to live life on their own terms. He chronicles the numerous human interactions and inevitable conflicts that arise in a community when characters assert their own needs at the expense of others.
Through a series of riveting, interconnected stories, Mackay reveals the beautiful symmetry of the human condition: we need communities, but communities also need us. His book is a quiet but persuasive entreaty to readers to take responsibility for the places where they live by engaging, volunteering, joining up and joining in.
As Australia struggles to define its values in a post-election era, The Art of Belonging is the book that will reignite the conversation about how we want to live; it will provide the framework for those who argue for a particular vision of community, one that sustains, protects and nurtures the many, and not just the few.
Release date: October 2014