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Shirley Walker

Shirley Walker’s most recent publication, The Ghost at the Wedding, won the 2010 Kibble Literary Award and shared the Asher Award (2009). It was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award.

Shirley Walker reviews ‘Across the Magic Line: Growing up in Fiji’ by Patricia Page

May 2004, no. 261 01 May 2004
In Across the Magic Line: Growing up in Fiji, Patricia Page comes full circle, returning with her sister Gay after an absence of fifty years to the enchanted islands of their childhood, reliving their memories and examining the very different Fiji of the present. Despite changes everywhere, the astonishing beauty of the islands remains, and the kindness of the Fijians is constant.  ... (read more)

Shirley Walker reviews ‘Learning To Dance: Elizabeth Jolley – Her life and work’ edited by Caroline Lurie

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
Elizabeth Jolley’s many admirers will be delighted with this new collection of autobiographical fragments, philosophical pieces, short fiction (some previously unpublished) and a number of rarely seen poems. It is designed, according to its editor, Caroline Lurie, to demonstrate the ways in which Jolley channelled her life story into her fiction, creating ‘something more revealing, more artist ... (read more)

Shirley Walker reviews 'Births Deaths Marriages: True tales' by Georgia Blain and 'The After Life: A memoir' by Kathleen Stewart

May 2008, no. 301 01 May 2008
Each of these memoirs – Births Deaths Marriages: true tales, by Georgia Blain, and The After Life: A Memoir, by Kathleen Stewart – is the work of an accomplished novelist, and each writer is well aware of the risks involved in the shift of mode. If the novel, as Blain maintains, provides a place for the writer to hide, the memoir is the place of self-exposure, of speaking the truth, or a versi ... (read more)

Shirley Walker reviews 'Out of Place' by Jo Dutton and 'Beyond the Break' by Sandra Hall

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
These are both second novels by previously successful authors. Each has an atmospheric sense of place and a dominant female figure. In Beyond the Break, it is the flamboyant and dangerous Irene. In Out of Place, the matriarch Eve, a postwar Italian migrant, keeps her family together through her insistence upon the traditions and the healing rituals of the old world, including especially the cookin ... (read more)

Shirley Walker reviews 'Beachmasters' by Thea Astley

July 1985, no. 72 01 January 1985
I know what happensI read the book …(epigraph to Beachmasters) Long term readers of Thea Astley have come to expect novels and short stories of finely tuned social satire which have increasingly employed Astley’s individual idiom: a richly textured and often baroque language of compressed meaning, of striking and original metaphor, of the incisively apt phrase which encapsulates character. H ... (read more)

Shirley Walker reviews 'Loyalties: Stories' by Laurie Clancy

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 July 2007
It is a treat to see ten of Laurie Clancy’s short stories collected in this volume, his third. Given their quality, it is not surprising that seven of them have already been published in magazines and anthologies. But to read them together is to see their interdependence, their thematic patterns. All deal with male experience, beginning with that of the fourteen-year-old Leo, on the brink of sex ... (read more)

'Bitter Fruit: Ruth Park's trilogy of want and human spirit' by Shirley Walker

July-August 2009, no. 313 01 July 2009
The reissue in one volume of three of Ruth Park’s much-loved novels The Harp in the South (1948), its sequel Poor Man’s Orange (1949), and the prequel Missus (1985) is welcome. The trilogy completes the family saga, taking the Darcy family from its emigrant beginnings in the dusty little outback towns where Hughie and Margaret meet and marry, to their life in the urban jungle of Surry Hills, t ... (read more)

Shirley Walker reviews 'Long Afternoon of the World' by Graeme Kinross-Smith

October 2007, no. 295 01 October 2007
Graeme Kinross-Smith, the author of Long Afternoon of the World, is a prolific writer, perhaps best known for his poetry – and it shows. This narrative is infused with the poetry of landscape and the joy of music: ‘Down the rooms of the past I hear music ... Music informs landscapes, the patient streets, the city’s lights spreading across the hills.’ The world of Tim Menzies comes alive on ... (read more)

Shirley Walker reviews 'Writing the Story of Your Life: The ultimate guide' by Carmel Bird

April 2007, no. 290 01 April 2007
While Australian women in particular have been avid diarists and letter-writers, the activity du jour is overwhelmingly the writing of memoir, inspired by the notion that everyone’s life is memorable and worth recording. Some memoirists are searching for the truth of their lives, to recover the past or perhaps recover from it. Some are simply recording their story for family consumption. Others, ... (read more)

Shirley Walker reviews 'Landscape of Farewell' by Alex Miller

November 2007, no. 296 01 December 2007
Alex Miller, twice winner of the Miles Franklin Award for Journey to the Stone Country (2003) and The Ancestor Game (1992), is one of our most profound and interesting writers. His latest novel, Landscape of Farewell, tells the story of Max Otto, an aged and disillusioned German professor of history, devastated by the death of his beloved wife. He knows now that he will never write the historical ... (read more)
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