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Andrea Goldsmith

Andrea Goldsmith is a Melbourne-based novelist and reviewer. Her novels include The Prosperous Thief (2002), which was short-listed for the Miles Franklin, the acclaimed Reunion, and The Memory Trap (2013), a novel of monuments, marriage, and music, awarded the Melbourne Prize in 2015. She also writes essays and articles, many of which are posted on her website.

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'The Shape of Sound' by Fiona Murphy

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
More than twenty-five years ago, I wrote an essay on the work of Oliver Sacks (Island Magazine, Autumn 1993). Entitled ‘Anthropologist of Mind’, it ranged across several of Sacks’s books; but it was Seeing Voices, published in 1989, that was the main impetus for the essay. In Seeing Voices, Sacks explored American deaf communities, past and present. He exposed the stringent and often punishi ... (read more)

'A tribute to Dorothy Porter' by Andrea Goldsmith

December 2018, no. 407 27 November 2018
I heard the Egypt story countless times, but then Dorothy Porter believed that if a story was worth telling, it warranted multiple retellings. In the late 1980s, before Dot and I met, she visited Egypt to gather material for her verse novel Akhenaten (1992). In Cairo, she joined a tour group taking in the major historical sights. Dot was, by this time, steeped in the life and times of the visionar ... (read more)

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'Elements of Surprise: Our mental limits and the satisfactions of plot' by Vera Tobin

August 2018, no. 403 26 July 2018
On the dust jacket of Elements of Surprise is the well-known picture by John Tenniel, illustrator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), depicting Alice gazing up at the grinning Cheshire Cat perched on a branch of a tree. I felt very much like Alice while reading Vera Tobin’s book, as if I had fallen into a world in which the rules, concepts, and vocabulary were completely alien to my ow ... (read more)

'Odysseus and me' by Andrea Goldsmith

April 2018, no. 400 23 March 2018
I have always believed that, at a personal level, anything is possible, that if I desire to be a particular someone or do a particular something, I can. All my desires have been realistic: no hankerings for time travel or reinvention as a theoretical physicist, although both have enormous appeal. My desires have been possibilities: working as a volunteer in Africa, joining a choir, mountaineering, ... (read more)

The Merchant of Venice (Bell Shakespeare)

ABR Arts 21 July 2017
The Merchant of Venice is a troublesome play. I have seen productions that have played up the comic aspects to an absurd and irritating degree while confining Shylock to the stereotype that bears his name. Some interpretations exploit the play as anti-Semitic propaganda. And none of the productions I have seen have united the two main narrative threads to any satisfying degree. Not surprisingly, T ... (read more)


ABR Arts 06 April 2017
The opening scene is a stunner. David Irving (Timothy Spall), top of the pile of Holocaust deniers, is giving a lecture. He is framed by darkness, we do not see the audience. ‘I say to you quite tastelessly,’ he says, ‘that more women died on the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.’ Irving speaks earnestly and with aut ... (read more)

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'Berlin for Jews: A twenty-first-century companion' by Leonard Barkan

March 2017, no. 389 28 February 2017
The title of this book has a resonance that would not occur, for example, in a text called ‘Paris for Jews’. Most readers will approach the work with understandings and expectations shaped by Hitler and the Holocaust. The title suggests that Berlin is a different city for Jews than for other visitors, and that Jewish Berlin itself is different from ecumenical Berlin. Is this book a travel guid ... (read more)

Chiharu Shiota: Absent bodies (Anna Schwartz Gallery)

ABR Arts 12 October 2016
There have been a handful of occasions in my life when I have stood before a work of art intending to look at it, appraise it, only to find myself drawn into it. In some strange way I become part of the work. It is as if my imagination has merged with the imaginative space of the art work and, at the same time, any mind-body split has been dissolved. I have, simultaneously, a visceral and imaginat ... (read more)

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'Shylock Is My Name' by Howard Jacobson

September 2016, no. 384 23 August 2016
Shylock Is My Name is the second novel to appear in Hogarth Press's Shakespeare Project. In this series, eight well-known novelists have each been commissioned to retell one of Shakespeare's plays for a modern audience. Jeanette Winterson launched the project with The Gap of  Time, her take on The Winter's Tale; the third in the series, the thoroughly enjoyable Vinegar Girl, a reworking of The T ... (read more)

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'In Praise of Forgetting: Historical memory and its ironies' by David Rieff

June–July 2016, no. 382 23 May 2016
Over the past three decades, and particularly since the prime ministership of John Howard, there has been an extraordinary growth in the number of young Australians making the pilgrimage to Gallipoli. Most of these people have no ancestors among the 'fallen', but rather are following what has become a rite of passage for patriotic young Australians. Lest we forget, they intone. But what exactly is ... (read more)
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