Australian Fiction

Elena Gomez reviews 'The Dark Wet' by Jess Huon

Elena Gomez
24 November 2011

The short story form is the realm of perfection, proclaims Steven Millhauser in his 2008 New York Times essay, ‘The Ambition of the Short Story’, in which the ‘virtues of smallness’ are dissected, along with the successes and shortcomings of the genre. Jess Huon’s first short story collection, The Dark Wet, could be described in many ways, but ‘small’ is not one ... More

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Coming of the Whirlpool' by Andrew McGahan

Gillian Dooley
24 November 2011

Any novel by Andrew McGahan is likely to be a surprise, if you know his previous work, but if you were to approach this book knowing nothing about the author, there would be little about it to disturb your expectations. The cover, with its heraldic design against a marine backdrop, immediately signals its genre, and the maps on the endpapers, showing McGahan’s imagined geography of a place ca ... More

Peter Pierce reviews 'When Colts Ran' by Roger McDonald

Peter Pierce
15 November 2011

Between the wars, the dominant mode of Australian fiction was the saga: tales of land-taking and nation-building, melodramas within families across generations, characters shaped by loneli More

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Cold Light' by Frank Moorhouse

Kerryn Goldsworthy
25 October 2011

Admirers of the first two volumes in Frank Moorhouse’s ‘Edith Trilogy’, Grand Days (1993) and Dark Palace (2000), will remember the gripping and heartbreaking scene at the end of Dark Palace in which Edith Campbell Berry, her British husband, Ambrose, and several of their senior colleagues are humiliatingly informed, in the cruellest ... More

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Foal's Bread' by Gillian Mears

Gillian Dooley
25 October 2011

Gillian Mears has been to death’s door and back. Her wonderful essay ‘Alive in Ant and Bee’ (2007) recounts the journey and the exquisite pleasures of her life as a survivor. Writing has taken a back seat, understandably, over the past decade or so. There has been a short story collection, A Map of the Gardens (2002), but a novel from Mears is quite an event, sixteen years after ... More

Morag Fraser reviews 'Autumn Laing' by Alex Miller

Morag Fraser
27 September 2011

Not since Marguerite Yourcenar’s classic Memoirs of Hadrian (1951) have I encountered a novel of such bravura intensity and insight into the jagged contours of the human heart.

Autumn Laing opens with a mercurial soliloquy. Over eighteen shimmering pages, the novel’s eponymous heroine draws scarcely a breath as, in a soul-scouring torre ... More

Margaret Harris and Fiona Morrison on 'The Man Who Loved Children' and 'Letty Fox' by Christina Stead

Margaret Harris and Fiona Morrison
27 September 2011

Christina Stead is an author perennially ripe for rediscovery. Her acknowledged masterpiece, The Man Who Loved Children, came out originally in 1940; in 2005, it figured in Time’s list of the 100 best novels published since 1923. But in his introduction to the Miegunyah Modern Library edition of the novel, American novelist Jonathan Franzen cites ... More

Don Anderson reviews 'The Street Sweeper' by Elliot Perlman

Don Anderson
27 September 2011

In 2003, the year in which Elliot Perlman’s previous novel Seven Types of Ambiguity was published, the eminent gadfly David Marr suggested that Australian novelists failed to address major contemporary social concerns. As if anticipating Marr’s criticisms, Perlman wove a plot that involved stock market speculation (and peculation), upmarket Melbourne brothels, privatised prisons, p ... More

Mark Gomes reviews 'Jack and Jill' by Helen Hodgman

Mark Gomes
27 September 2011

Australian author Helen Hodgman depicts writing and domestic love as apotheoses of self-annihilation. In Jack and Jill (1978) – Hodgman’s second novel and the second to be reissued by Text Publishing this year, after Blue Skies (1976) – literary imagination acts as a sexual Strangling Fig, and childbearing poses a threat to psychic wherewithal. Mind and body, this stylis ... More

Adam Rivett reviews 'The Cook' by Wayne Macauley

Adam Rivett
27 September 2011

For a work that deals heavily with culinary aspirations, it is going to be hard to review Wayne Macauley’s brilliant new novel The Cook without reference to Masterchef, so let’s get it out of the way early. This year, after each new episode of the television show aired, the assorted snark-addled wits of the Fairfax press gathered online to do their mocking work. The mechan ... More

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