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Susan Midalia

Susan Midalia is a Perth-based author of four short story collections, and the novels The Art of Persuasion (2018) and Everyday Madness (2021). She is also a freelance editor and mentor, and has been a judge of the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and the T.A.G. Hungerford Award, as well as numerous short story competitions.

Susan Midalia reviews 'Gunflower' by Laura Jean McKay

December 2023, no. 460 27 November 2023
Laura Jean McKay’s new collection, Gunflower, offers a range of disturbing, deftly satiric, and sometime bizarre short stories. As in her award-winning novel The Animals in that Country (2022), some of the stories in the collection explore the relationship between the human and non-human, and often challenge rational explanations or simple allegorical interpretations for the imaginative worlds t ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'Where Light Meets Water' by Susan Paterson

May 2023, no. 453 24 April 2023
Susan Paterson’s first novel, Where Light Meets Water, offers readers the various pleasures of the traditional Bildungsroman. Spanning the years 1847 to 1871, it centres on the life of Thomas Rutherford, a man torn between devotion to his work as a mariner and an abiding passion for painting seascapes. The predominant use of an omniscient narrator provides unfettered access to his conflicted inn ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'Jesustown: A novel' by Paul Daley

September 2022, no. 446 25 August 2022
Paul Daley will be familiar to many readers as a respected journalist expressly committed to exposing the blind spots of white culture’s dominant myths about Indigenous history and Australia’s national identity. Daley is perhaps less well known as a novelist and playwright. These two interests in his work – historical research and imaginative writing – inform his powerful second novel, Jes ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'Bodies of Light' by Jennifer Down

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
Australian novelist and short story writer Jennifer Down has been rightly acclaimed, with an impressive list of awards to her name, including the Jolley Prize in 2014. Her new novel, Bodies of Light, is both much more ambitious in scope than her first and an altogether more harrowing read. Spanning the years from 1975 to 2018, and traversing many different locations in Australia, New Zealand, and ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'All That I Remember About Dean Cola' by Tania Chandler, 'Catch Us the Foxes' by Nicola West, and 'Spring Clean for the Peach Queen' by Sasha Wasley

July 2021, no. 433 23 June 2021
Three recent novels by Australian women deal with current and increasingly urgent political questions about female identity and embodiment. They each use the conventions of popular realist fiction to provoke thought about the causes of female disempowerment and the struggle for self-determination. Coincidentally, they are also set, or partially set, in Australian country towns, although their loca ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'The Road to Woop Woop and other stories' by Eugen Bacon

January–February 2021, no. 428 17 December 2020
Eugen Bacon’s début short story collection, The Road to Woop Woop, plays with the genres of speculative fiction and magic realism. Using familiar tropes such as time travel, shapeshifting, and prescient characters, the stories typically refuse formulaic outcomes. The title story, for example, confounds expectations about the horror of bodily disintegration. The ominous angel of death in the sto ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'Ordinary Matter' by Laura Elvery

September 2020, no. 424 17 August 2020
Laura Elvery’s second short story collection, Ordinary Matter, shows the same talent for precise observation, pathos, and humour as her accomplished début collection, Trick of the Light (2018). It differs in its creation of a greater range of narrators and voices, and in its use of a specific ideological framework through which to unify the collection: each of its twenty stories is prefaced by ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'Wild Fearless Chests' by Mandy Beaumont, 'No Neat Endings' by Dominic Carew, 'Shirl' by Wayne Marshall, and 'A Couple of Things Before the End' by Sean O’Beirne

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
The American writer Jack Matthews had no time for what he called ‘a discontent’ with the brevity of the short story. ‘Ask a coral snake,’ he declared, ‘which is as deadly as it is small.’ The claim for ‘deadliness’ certainly applies to four recent début collections; in the tight spaces of the short story, each one presents confronting ideas about contemporary Australia. Wild Fear ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'Melting Moments' by Anna Goldsworthy, 'The Light After the War' by Anita Abriel, and 'Wearing Paper Dresses' by Anne Brinsden

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
Three recent début novels employ the genre of the Bildungsroman to explore the complexities of female experience in the recent historical past. Melting Moments by Anna GoldsworthyBlack Inc., $29.99 pb, 240 pp Anna Goldsworthy, widely known and admired as a memoirist, essayist, and musician, has now added a novel, Melting Moments, to her list of achievements. Set mainly in Adelaide from the 1940 ... (read more)

Susan Midalia reviews 'The Sea and Us' by Catherine de Saint Phalle

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
Catherine de Saint Phalle already had an impressive publication history – five novels written in French and one in English – when her elegantly written, often heart-breaking memoir Poum and Alexandre was shortlisted for the 2017 Stella Prize. Her new novel, The Sea and Us, is her third book written in English since she came to Australia in 2003. Its title works both literally and symbolically. ... (read more)
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