Chris Womersley

Cleaning out my flat recently I offloaded quite a few books that – after carrying them around for twenty years – I finally admitted I would probably never read again. Among them were quite a few Paul Auster novels. I had a huge crush on his work when I was younger, but feel they have outlived their appeal for me.

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In Chris Womersley’s collection of short fiction, A Lovely and Terrible Thing, a man is caught in a fugue moment. Just after unexpectedly discharging a gun into the body of a stranger, he gazes at his reflection in a darkened window pane: ‘I saw someone outside looking in, before realising it was, in fact, my own reflection ...

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To complement our 2017 ‘Books of the Year’, we invited several senior publishers to nominate their favourite books – all published by other companies.

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Every Chris Womersley novel represents a significant departure from the last. Following his award-winning and magnificently dark début, The Low Road (2007), and his Miles Franklin shortlisted Bereft (2010), and Cairo (2013), City of Crows is his first novel set entirely outside Australia. An acutely crafted historical fiction, it ...

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The Sleepers Almanac X edited by Zoe Dattner and Louise Swinn

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December 2015, no. 377

In more than ten years on the scene, Sleepers has positioned itself as both champion of the small press sector – the natural home of the short story – and a canny player in the broader publishing landscape; its Almanac has been a reliable litmus test for the direction of new Australian writing.

In this instalment, several absurdist and satirical works are stacked into the c ...

What’s not to love about Arthur Rimbaud? Having run away from his home in northern France, the outrageous and outrageously gifted teenage poet landed on the Paris doorstep of fellow poet Paul Verlaine in 1871. There, he co-opted the twenty-seven-year-old Symbolist into his artistic enterprise of ‘derangement of the senses’, which soon saw the pair embarking on a torrid affair that culminated in their fleeing to Brussels, where Verlaine shot Rimbaud (although not fatally) and was jailed.

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Bereft by Chris Womersley

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September 2010, no. 324

World War I is lodged in the minds of Australians with mythic power. Chris Womersley, in plain and startling yet tender and lyrical prose, has constructed a moving narrative that opens up the wounds of war, laying bare the events that pre-date the conflict and reach forward into the collective memory. I was reminded of A.S. Byatt’s recent novel The Children’s Book (2009), which also foregrounds in poetic language the Great War and etches forever the horror of broken bodies and minds on the consciousness of its readers.

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In Peter Temple’s phenomenally successful The Broken Shore (2005), detective Joe Cashin wonders what the right result might be in the case of murdered businessman and philanthropist Charles Bourgoyne. Lawyer and romantic interest Helen Castleman’s answer is succinct: ‘The truth’s the right result.’ The truth of The Broken Shore was murky, disturbing and came with a price ...

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The resounding metaphor in The Low Road is that of a bullet wound and ‘the shock waves it sends through the body, often creating a cavity ahead of where the bullet stops. Almost as if the body accommodates the object’s anticipated trajectory and manufactures its very own injury.’ Chris Womersley’s intentions are suitably applicable to this laparoscopic image: to examine the cycle of crime, social alienation and despair, set against an uncanny dystopian landscape.

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