Australian Fiction

Imagine the book as a repository of memories: to turn the pages is to remember. Fiction, in particular, encourages flipping back and forth through memory’s volume. An author’s life informs her fiction. Memories, personal and second-hand, play a pivotal role in the formation of narrative structures. In a début novel, it is not uncommon for the author to resort to childhood sources for inspi ...

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alancing the big picture with the intimate details that engage us when reading a novel is not easy. This latest book from veteran Australian author Tom Keneally is epic in scope, but takes us into the intimate worlds of particular people. This is the way to tell a story about an event as mammoth as World War I. Keneally, the author of Schindler’s Ark ...

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

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May 2012, no. 341

Proudly popular fiction, Dead Heat is a romantic thriller set in a north-western New South Wales National Park. Organised crime in fiction generally operates in a large city or on the coastline, but author Bronwyn Parry sets her plot in the bush. The inclusion of bushland and animals creates unique plot obstacles and possibilities for both the criminals and the authorities, and it is a ...

Sea Hearts  by Margo Lanagan

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May 2012, no. 341

Sea Hearts takes place in an intensely wrought setting, both unnerving and thrilling – in propinquity to our world, yet enchantingly different. We journey, with a series of intriguing characters, through brutal landscapes where the wind is ‘swiping like a cat’s paw at a mousehole’.

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‘Genius,’ as Arthur Rimbaud put it, ‘is childhood recovered at will.’ Rimbaud himself abandoned poetry at the age of twenty and thereafter refused to look back, but Patrick White exemplified the rule in writing The Hanging Garden. He was sixty-eight at the time, and had just completed his rancorous memoir Flaws in the Glass (1981); having d ...

The Longing is an ambitious first novel. Set in the Western District of Victoria, with parallel narratives in the mid-nineteenth century and the present day, its principal theme is the occupation of Gunditjmara country by white settlers, and the decimation of Indigenous tribes. Novel writing is, of course, an act of imagination, and writers should be commended for their research, tenac ...

In After the Darkness, the third novel by Victorian writer Honey Brown, suburban couple Bruce and Trudy Harrison have their lives upended by a brutal attack while holidaying on the Great Ocean Road. This is only the tip of the narrative iceberg. Indeed, their ordeal at the hands of an opportunistic psychopath happens with such speed that the reader feels as disoriented as the victims d ...

Paddy O’Reilly’s début novel, The Factory (2005), was widely commended, and her collection of short fiction, The End of the World (2007), garnered recognition in several major literary prizes. Published under the name P.A. O’Reilly, thereby distinguishing it from the author’s more literary works, O’Reilly’s second novel, The Fine Colour of Rust, marks a d ...

The unnamed, eleven-year-old narrator protagonist of The Cartographer has an epileptic fit after witnessing a horrific rape-murder. The year is 1959. His father has just left the family days after his identical twin brother was killed by faulty playground equipment. The child’s closest friend is his wheeler-dealer grandfather, but it is in his own head that he thrives. To act out his ...

Few writers, it could be argued, have ever cannibalised life for their art as ruthlessly and consistently as did Martin Boyd; and few are born into situations which lend themselves so readily to art. Boyd’s working life – indeed, much of his entire existence – was spent trying to unite the past with the present, the old world with the new, himself with the man ...