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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 'Stella Miles Franklin: A biography' by Jill Roe

February 2009, no. 308 01 February 2009
In December 1982, publisher Richard Walsh commissioned a ‘life and times of Miles Franklin’ from historian Jill Roe. The book ‘has been a long time coming’, says Roe, ‘due to other commitments and responsibilities, and because of the extent of previously unexamined source material.’ That source material – letters, articles, unpublished manuscripts, journals – exists in quantities t ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Paul Kelly: The man, the music and the life in-between' by Stuart Coupe

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
The voice on the car radio was not immediately recognisable, nor was the song familiar to me. There was just a smoky laid-back piano and someone singing a song that sounded as though it was from the 1940s: ‘Young lovers, young lovers …’ I thought the voice, whomever it belonged to, had a real musicality in it, a precision of pitch and phrasing in tandem with a kind of liquid sweetness. I ha ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Underground' by Andrew McGahan

October 2006, no. 285 19 August 2020
Several years ago, on two separate occasions, Drusilla Modjeska and David Marr called for Australian fiction writers to address directly the state of the country in its post-9/11 incarnation. ‘I have a simple plea to make,’ said Marr in the Redfern Town Hall in March 2003, delivering the annual Colin Simpson Lecture: ‘that writers start focusing on what is happening in this country, looking ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Grandmothers: Essays by 21st-century grandmothers' edited by Helen Elliott and 'A Lasting Conversation: Stories on ageing' edited by Dr Susan Ogle and Melanie Joosten

June–July 2020, no. 422 26 May 2020
Grandmothers are not what they used to be, as Elizabeth Jolley once said of custard tarts. It’s a point made by several contributors to Helen Elliott’s lively and thoughtfully curated collection of essays on the subject, Grandmothers, and it partly explains why these two books are not as similar as you might expect. A Lasting Conversation: Stories on ageing – edited by Dr Susan Ogle and Mel ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Friends and Rivals: Four great Australian writers' by Brenda Niall

May 2020, no. 421 20 April 2020
Armed with more than half a century’s worth of knowledge, experience, the fermentation of ideas and approaches in literary history and criticism over that period, and her own formidable reputation as a scholar and teacher of Australian literature, Brenda Niall returns in her latest book to the territory of her earliest ones. In Seven Little Billabongs: The world of Ethel Turner and Mary Grant Br ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Blessed City' by Gwen Harwood

November 1990, no. 126 01 November 1990
Gwen Foster met Lieutenant Thomas Riddell in Brisbane in 1942, when she was twenty­-two. ‘Tony’ Riddell, stationed in Brisbane, was sent to Darwin early in 1943; and between January and September of that year, Gwen Foster wrote him the eighty-nine letters that make up this book. It’s the chronicle of a year, of a city, of a family, of a friendship, of a war no one could see an end to, an ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Geography' by Sophie Cunningham

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
The first book of fiction is a little sub-genre with a number of readily recognisable features. It’s loosely structured and tends to be episodic, without much of a plot. It’s at least partly about love and sex, preferably of an obsessive or otherwise significant kind. And it’s at least partly autobiographical. If it’s already a bad book, then these things do tend to make it worse, but if i ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Love Is Strong As Death' edited by Paul Kelly

March 2020, no. 419 24 January 2020
The assertion that ‘love is strong as death’ comes from the Song of Solomon, a swooning paean to sexual love that those unfamiliar with the Old Testament might be startled to find there. Songwriter and musician Paul Kelly has included it in this hefty, eclectic, and beautifully produced anthology of poetry, which has ‘meaningful gift’ written all over it.  In a brisk but friendly and ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Damascus' by Christos Tsiolkas

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
The man traditionally held to have written about half of the New Testament is variously known as Saul of Tarsus, Paul the Apostle, and St Paul. Initially an enthusiastic persecutor of the earliest Christians, he underwent a dramatic conversion shortly after the Crucifixion, and it is on this moment that his life, and Christos Tsiolkas’s new novel, both turn. Damascus covers the period 35–87 CE ... (read more)

'After the Academy' by Kerryn Goldsworthy

June–July 2002, no. 242 01 June 2002
‘... the reasons why anybody is an expatriate, or why another chooses to return home, are such personal ones that the question can only be answered in a personal way.’ Patrick White, 'The Prodigal Son'   At seven o’clock on the morning of 2 February 1999, I was due at the Memorial Hospital in North Adelaide to relieve my older sister at my mother’s bedside, where she had been all n ... (read more)