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Maya Linden

Maya Linden

Maya Linden has lived and worked in the United States and in Australia as a writer, researcher, restaurant and bar critic, book reviewer, and teacher of Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne. She has recently completed a PhD on feminine masochism in women’s literature at the University of Adelaide, and her creative and critical writing has been published in many local and international journals, including Meanjin, Westerly, Life Writing and Australian Book Review, as well as several anthologies. Her website is

Maya Linden reviews ‘Deception’ by Celeste Walters

June–July 2005, no. 272 01 June 2005
‘Reading provides a temporary stay from hate and anger. From pain,’ proposes Celeste Walters’s teenage protagonist, Josh Sim. Yet, as a novel, Deception is far from escapist literature. Despite being set in an imaginary city, this is not the material of fantasy: Walters’s work reveals the world as a gritty, desolate and unjustly cruel place. ... (read more)

Maya Linden reviews 'Watershed' by Fabienne Bayet-Charlton, and 'Summer at Mount Hope' by Rosalie Ham

April 2006, no. 280 01 April 2006
Fabienne Bayet-Charlton’s Watershed begins, ‘… such is the realm of water. It cradles yet suffocates. Warms and cools us. Sustains, nurtures and kills us.’ Indeed, the bonds and binaries of the element are central to this narrative – not simply the presence or lack of literal water, but also fierce emotional currents that threaten to submerge its main characters. Set in contemporary Sou ... (read more)

Maya Linden reviews 'Genius Squad' by Catherine Jinks and 'At Seventeen' by Celeste Walters

May 2008, no. 301 01 May 2008
In the essay ‘Pay Attention to the World’, written shortly before her death in 2004, Susan Sontag argues that fiction is ‘one of the resources we have for helping us to make sense of our lives … [it] educates the heart and the feelings and teaches us how to be in the world’. While Sontag’s insight recognises the power of literature in general, the qualities she identifies are particula ... (read more)

Maya Linden reviews 'Beautiful Malice' by Rebecca James

July–August 2010, no. 323 01 July 2010
Our response to tragedy strangely mingles pain and pleasure,’ notes Terry Eagleton in Sweet Violence (2003). ‘The feelings being released are painful in themselves but the act of easing them is pleasurable.’ While reading Rebecca James’s Beautiful Malice, I was reminded of this passage, and of Eagleton’s suggestion that the ambivalent combination of fear, pity and relief in our reaction ... (read more)

Maya Linden reviews 'Drift' by Penni Russon

May 2007, no. 291 01 May 2007
Drift is a complex and ambitious piece of young adult fiction that attempts, and partially achieves, an exploration of myriad existential themes. Through the tale of Undine, the adolescent daughter of an idiosyncratic family, claustrophobically trapped between magical realms and reality, Penni Russon embarks on a sometimes baffling journey through parallel universes, string theory and the physics ... (read more)

Maya Linden reviews 'Are You Seeing Me?' by Darren Groth and 'The Minnow' by Diana Sweeney

September 2014, no. 364 01 September 2014
At its greatest, literature offers us the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone else; at its most inviting, through a character whose experience could be our own; at its most powerful, through a view of existence that differs vastly, even frighteningly, from ours. The latter is explored in these two new works of Young Adult fiction that show us intensely ‘other’ ways of seei ... (read more)

Maya Linden reviews 'The One and Only Jack Chant' by Rosie Borella and 'The Haunting of Lily Frost' by Nova Weetman

May 2014, no. 361 30 April 2014
In Negotiating with the Dead (2002), Margaret Atwood proposes that all writing ‘is motivated, deep down, by a fear of, and fascination with, mortality – by a desire to make the risky trip to the Underworld, and to bring something or someone back from the dead’. Certainly writers often use their craft both to preserve the memory of times, places, and people lost to them, and, consciously or u ... (read more)

Maya Linden reviews 'Zac & Mia' by A. J. Betts

November 2013, no. 356 31 October 2013
Authentically owning a character’s experience is one of the great challenges faced by fiction writers, especially when it is something as intensely felt as living with terminal illness. It is testimony to A.J. Betts’s talent that she does so in Zac & Mia without lapsing into melodrama, rather, maintaining a voice that is youthful, contemporary, emotional when it needs to be but never clich ... (read more)
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