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Tali Lavi

Tali Lavi

Tali Lavi is a critic, writer, and public interviewer whose work has appeared in publications including Australian Book Review, The Jewish Quarterly, The Saturday Paper and Sydney Review of Books. ‘Counting’, an essay, was published in Marina Benjamin’s Garden Among Fires: A Lockdown Anthology. She was Co-Director Programming and part of the programming team for Melbourne Jewish Book Week between 2013 and 2023.

Tali Lavi reviews 'Imperfect: How our bodies shape the people we become' by Lee Kofman

March 2019, no. 409 25 February 2019
A marble statue of a crouching Venus disfigured by age and circumstance appears on the cover of Lee Kofman’s Imperfect. The goddess of love and beauty is a ruin, although one capable of radiating an uncertain allure. Through a deft trick of typography, the emblazoned title can be read as either ‘Imperfect’ or ‘I’m Perfect’. Kofman announces from the outset that she has attempted ‘to ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'Insomnia' by Marina Benjamin

January-February 2019, no. 408 18 December 2018
The morning I begin to read Insomnia, a darkly thrilling beauty of a book, the sky turns a duckblue albumen. Domestic hush and personal restlessness coexist. This tension of dualities recurs within Marina Benjamin’s philosophical and poetic reckoning with the state of insomnia. I am not a fellow sufferer. There was a mere dalliance with insomnia after the birth of my children, stayed by drugs p ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'A Second Chance: The making of Yiddish Melbourne' by Margaret Taft and Andrew Markus

November 2018, no. 406 26 October 2018
In my childhood home, Yiddish prompted a frisson of the suppressed. This was a direct consequence of adults speaking it whenever they did not want us children to understand. Yiddish was the language in which jokes, clever and sometimes ribald, worked. When attempting to translate, inevitably my grandmother would shrug; English was found lacking. Yiddish dimpled our conversations, and the foods tha ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'The Storyteller: Selected stories' by Serge Liberman

Online Exclusives 31 August 2018
When I look at certain images of German-born photographer Roman Vishniac, the accompanying pain is acute, for his mesmerising monochromatic portraits of Eastern European Jews before their devastation in the Holocaust are not mere ethnological studies. Elie Wiesel refers to Vishniac as ‘poet of memory, elegist of ruined hopes’ in the foreword to A Vanished World (1983). The same might be said o ... (read more)

The Antipodes (Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre)

ABR Arts 16 July 2018
Strange and terrible events unfold around us. Conflicts erupt; catastrophes occur; a billionaire reality television performer reminiscent of a snake oil merchant is elected president of the United States. Following these destabilising forces, a chorus comprised of dissonant tones of reproach and plea often emerges: ‘Where are the artists’ voices?’ The answer is nuanced. Singular voices are p ... (read more)


ABR Arts 21 June 2018
A doorbell rings. Along with the Feldman family, we are catapulted into Samuel Maoz’s mesmerising drama, one worthy of its Greek tragedian and European absurdist antecedents. Deeply shocked, a woman faints and fits; a man is frozen. Their son Yonatan, a soldier, has been killed. Hell descends on the stylish apartment at 8 am. We know this because one of the three solicitous soldiers, emissaries ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'The Tattooist Of Auschwitz' by Heather Morris

March 2018, no. 399 22 February 2018
Early on in this book, the fictional Lale Sokolov, based on the real man of that name who survived Auschwitz and its horrors to eventually live in suburban Melbourne, has his arm tattooed. Aghast, he laments, ‘How can someone do this to another human being?’ He wonders if, ‘for the rest of his life, be it short or long, he will be defined by this moment, this irregular number: 32407’. The ... (read more)

Hir (Red Stitch Actors' Theatre)

ABR Arts 06 February 2018
A soldier comes home from war only to find that home is not what it once was. This premise, fertile with dramatic possibilities, has inspired storytellers from Homer and Sophocles to contemporary writers like Ben Fountain. In Taylor Mac’s Hir, the foreign war zone and the rainbow-splattered domestic space act as minefields. The play – first seen in Australia at Belvoir in 2017 – is confined ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'Stop Fixing Women: Why building fairer workplaces is everybody’s business' by Catherine Fox

September 2017, no. 394 30 August 2017
In A Room of One’s Own (1929), Virginia Woolf instructs women to ‘write calmly’ and ‘not in a rage’. Commentator Catherine Fox writes ‘calmly’ about contemporary realities with great potential to spark rage. Stop Fixing Women operates partly as a rejoinder to Sheryl Sandberg’s popular manifesto Lean In (2013), which addressed ‘internal obstacles’ for women. Fox’s argument is ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'Once We Were Sisters' by Sheila Kocher

August 2017, no. 393 23 July 2017
As Nadine Gordimer once mused, ‘Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.’ Sheila Kohler’s site of personal haunting is the murder of her sister Maxine in South Africa more than three decades ago. Once We Were Sisters is not, however, a maudlin memoir. Whilst the book readily enters dark territory, it also resuscitates the wr ... (read more)
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