I’ve been fortunate to work with talented editors like Sally Heath (formerly with MUP and now with Thames & Hudson) and more recently with Chris Feik and Kirstie Innes-Will at Black Inc. I’d be lost without their close reading of my work and their suggestions for improvement. As Chris says, skilful editing helps to make any book the best version of itself.
Oliver Driscoll’s note on his first book I Don’t Know How That Happened (Recent Work Press, $19.95 pb, 74 pp) praises the inclusive flatness of David Hockney’s still life paintings, and it is to this inclusiveness that his poems and prose pieces aspire. Droll reported speech creates a comic atmosphere but also moves into Kafkaesque alienation where nothing seems to follow any pattern.
The Penguin Book of Migration Literature by Dohra Ahmad
‘Exile is a profound stimulus to the human anxiety for literary representation,’ writes Harold Bloom. Whether voluntary or involuntary, this impetus is the driving force behind the works in The Penguin Book of Migration Literature.
A Trip to the Dominions: The scientific event that changed Australia edited by Lynette Russell
Founded in 1831, the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) sought to redress impediments to scientific progress that arose in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, determining that the BAAS would ‘give a stronger impulse and more systematic direction to scientific inquiry … [and] promote the intercourse of cultivators of science’.
A Bridge Between: Spanish Benedictine missionary women in Australia by Katharine Massam
What kinds of stories are possible now about a mission community at the height of the assimilation era? How might scholars narrate the lives of religious women who ran an institution for Indigenous children?
David Kemp, formerly professor of politics at Monash University and minister in the Howard government, has a fairly simple thesis about Australian politics in the years between the mid-1920s and the mid-1960s. Put crudely, Australians were offered a choice between socialism and liberalism.
Return to Uluru: A killing, a hidden history, a story that goes to the heart of the nation by Mark McKenna
The distinguished historian Mark McKenna has written an elegant and hungry book about the pull of Uluru, that place of mysterious significance to Australians, black and white. Of course, in recent times, the Uluru Statement from the Heart – the heart that had a stake driven through it the moment it was entrusted to the most powerful whites in Canberra – is a complicated domain of passion and polemic. McKenna’s work, pro-Aboriginal and postcolonial in spirit, is itself an addition to the long history of romancing Uluru, albeit with a focus on a hero who seems like an anti-hero by the time this book is done.
I forget tradition, a tray of sticky dates passed around the kitchen table, bismillah
in our mouths before we ravenously break the dusk, chew and spit back the pits. Ma ladling
lumpy lentil soup, abandonment pouched in her long sleeves, an old injury she does not
stop pressing. How are we still here? Made of garlic breath, violent affection, arrears.
Truth-telling: History, sovereignty and the Uluru Statement by Henry Reynolds
In the wake of the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, truth-telling has gained new currency in Australia. The Statement called for a ‘Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history’. Although yet to be fleshed out in any detail, the renewed call for truth-telling has been greeted with enthusiasm by many First Nations peoples and their allies around the continent, who endorse the view that shining the bright light of truth into the darkest recesses of Australian history will contribute to a transformation in Indigenous–settler relations.
Women of a Certain Rage by Liz Byrski
Liz Byrski’s introduction to Women of a Certain Rage is, among other things, a homage to second-wave feminism and a lament that feminism, ‘originally a radical countercultural movement’, has been ‘distorted into a tool of neoliberalism’. While there is no doubt that strains of feminism have been co-opted by neoliberalism to debilitating effect, this narrative – that feminism has become ineffectual since the 1970s – is one that erases many contemporary feminisms, as well as broader feminism-informed political movements and the work that they have done and continue to do.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Klara is an Artificial Friend (AF), an android companion for spoiled tweens. She’s not the newest model, but what Klara lacks in top-of-the-line joint mobility and showy acrobatics, she makes up for in observational nous; she’s an uncommonly gifted reader of faces and bodies, a finely calibrated empathy machine. Every feeling Klara decodes becomes part of her neural circuitry. The more she sees, the more she’s able to feel.