Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy won the 2013 Pascall Prize for cultural criticism, and the 2017 Horne Prize for her essay ‘The Limit of the World’. A former Editor of ABR (1986–87), she is one of Australia’s most prolific and respected literary critics. Her publications include several anthologies, a critical study of Helen Garner, and her book Adelaide, which was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. In November 2012 she was named as the inaugural ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellow. Her Fellowship article on reviewing, ‘Everyone’s a Critic’, appeared in the May 2013 issue of ABR.

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2016' edited by Charlotte Wood

January–February 2017, no. 388 19 December 2016
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2016' edited by Charlotte Wood
If a collection of stories is put together on the basis that these are the ‘best Australian stories of 2016’, is it fair or reasonable to hope for some kind of cohesiveness or gestalt beyond those three explicit parameters of quality, place, and time? The answer will depend largely on what the editor’s ideas might be, not only about what makes a good short story, but also about the way to ma ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Fiction of Thea Astley' by Susan Sheridan

December 2016, no. 387 28 November 2016
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Fiction of Thea Astley' by Susan Sheridan
The record for the largest number of Miles Franklin Literary Awards ever won is jointly held by Tim Winton and Thea Astley, with four wins each. It may seem odd that with three of those already behind her, Astley should also have won the Patrick White Award in 1989 for ‘a writer who has been highly creative over a long period but has not necessarily received adequate recognition’. But, as Davi ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'A Mother's Disgrace' by Robert Dessaix

Reading Australia 12 September 2016
On the day that Robert Dessaix first came face to face with his birth mother, he was already in his mid-forties. Adopted as a newborn baby in 1944 by a couple who loved and cared for him through his childhood and adolescence, he had grown up in Sydney, had invented his own imaginary land with its own language, had been married for twelve years, divorced, negotiated a reorientation of his sexuality ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'After the Carnage' by Tara June Winch

September 2016, no. 384 22 August 2016
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'After the Carnage' by Tara June Winch
Tara June Winch's first and only other book to date, a series of linked stories called Swallow the Air, was written while she was pregnant with her daughter Lila and published in 2006 when she was not yet twenty-three. It was shortlisted in its category for the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and for The Age Book of the Year, and it won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Indigenous Wr ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Last Painting of Sara de Vos' by Dominic Smith

June–July 2016, no. 382 23 May 2016
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Last Painting of Sara de Vos' by Dominic Smith
Australian-born Dominic Smith grew up in Sydney but has spent most of his adult life in the United States; he currently lives in Austin, Texas, where he is claimed as a 'Texan writer'. Despite the fact that this is his fourth novel, the fact that his previous novel was shortlisted for two major Australian literary prizes, and the fact that he is clearly a major talent, his name is largely unfamili ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' by Richard Flanagan

Reading Australia 24 March 2015
When Richard Flanagan won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for his sixth novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, it was not the first time that he had won an international fiction prize; his third novel, Gould's Book of Fish (2001), won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2002. Nor was it the first time that one of his novels had caused deep division among readers and critics; the influential Austra ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Mick' by Suzanne Falkiner

March 2016, no. 379 24 February 2016
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Mick' by Suzanne Falkiner
Late in 1998, the Times Literary Supplement, as was its wont, sent Randolph 'Mick' Stow a book for review. It was Xavier Herbert: A Biography (1998) by Francis de Groen, and Stow accepted the commission with enthusiasm. 'What a ghastly, embarrassing old pillock,' he wrote to his lifelong friend Bill Grono. 'Well, you'll soon read my opinion of him.' Stow's review tells a personal story of an encou ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Thea Astley' by Karen Lamb

September 2015, no. 374 24 August 2015
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Thea Astley' by Karen Lamb
‘If there are going to be any more of her novels, perhaps we should come right out and promote her as an utter bitch?’ So wrote Alec Bolton, the London manager of Angus & Robertson, to his senior editor John Abernethy in Sydney. The novelist in question was Thea Astley, and the book was A Boat Load of Home Folk (1968). Bolton had optimistically sent a copy of this bleak and savage novel ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas

Reading Australia 30 June 2015
Reading Australia: 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas
The slap that I wanted to deliver with that book was to a culture in Australia that had literally made me sick, sick to the stomach. A middle class culture that struck me as incredibly selfish and ungenerous … I wanted to try and write a book ... that represented that culture. And to do that, honestly, I had to put myself in the middle of it. I also had to put my Greekness in the middle of that ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Forever Young' by Steven Carroll

June-July 2015, no. 372 27 May 2015
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Forever Young' by Steven Carroll
Most Australians, if asked to name a date they associate with the name Gough Whitlam, would say ‘11 November 1975’. Steven Carroll subverts this expectation at the outset with Forever Young, which uses the last days of Whitlam as its historical backdrop as well as for other less tangible things. And the last days of Whitlam came not in 1975 but on 10 December 1977, when he was still leading th ... (read more)