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Thuy On

Thuy On

Thuy On is books editor of The Big Issue. She's also an arts journalist/critic who has written for a variety of publications including The Australian, The Age/SMH, The Saturday Paper, Books+Publishing, and ArtsHub. Her first book of poetry, Turbulence, was published by UWAP. She's one of three recipients of the 2020 SRB Juncture Fellowships. 

Thuy On reviews 'Sustenance' by Simone Lazaroo

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
Food is often used as a metaphor for a range of emotions, and this device is underscored in Simone Lazaroo’s fourth book. The title alludes to the idea of nourishment as a substitute for love, sex and religion. Indeed, the protagonist, Malaysian Perpetua de Mello, is a chef at a four-and-a-half-star Balinese tourist resort, the Elsewhere Hotel. Although the slogan in its promotional flyer encour ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Swallow the Air' by Tara June Winch

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
Swallow the Air won the 2004 David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writers. Judging by this slender volume of work, the choice was a judicious one. Thematically, Tara June Winch’s début effort travels along the well-worn path of fiction based on personal experiences, with the protagonist propelling the narrative through a journey of self-discovery. In this respect, Swallow the Air nestles snugly i ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'The Paper House' by Anna Spargo-Ryan

September 2016, no. 384 23 August 2016
The Paper House begins benignly, even buoyantly, with a recently married couple, a new house, and the stirrings of pregnancy. But the intense grief that suddenly upheaves the narrative sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Set on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, this début is an affecting portrait of a family pulled together and wrenched apart by mental illness. After a loss, Heather sinks int ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Twitcher' by Cherise Saywell

March 2013, no. 349 07 March 2013
When sixteen-year-old Kenno and his family are evicted from their coastal rental property, Kenno is unconcerned: he has a cunning plan that will give them enough money to purchase his dream home. The idea involves lodging a compensatory claim for an accident that happened years ago. But Kenno needs his older sister, Lou, to fill in the details. She has a welted and bluish scar on her forehead, a p ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Big River Little Fish' by Belinda Jeffrey

November 2010, no. 326 07 October 2011
The birth of Tom Downs on the banks of the Murray River in South Australia tragically coincided with the death of his mother. His premature arrival – in the breech position – subsequently informs how his life is played out. Now fifteen and illiterate, he is considered by some in the rural community of Swan Reach as rather backward (hence his nickname, ‘Mot’). But Tom is adept with his hand ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'All I Ever Wanted' by Vikki Wakefield

October 2011, no. 335 27 September 2011
Sixteen-year-old Jemima (Mim) Dodd lives in a dilapidated house on the edge of suburbia, with an overweight, couch-loving mother. Mim’s two elder half-brothers are in remand for drug-related offences, and she is struggling not to be sucked into her neighbourhood’s vortex of sex, crime, and violence. Mim seems to be a victim both of her hostile social environment and her dysfunctional family. F ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Her Father’s Daughter' by Alice Pung

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
It is a mark perhaps of her publisher’s confidence and her own bestselling status that the cover of Alice Pung’s second book has her name in large print, dwarfing even the title itself. Her Father’s Daughter is the sequel to Pung’s Unpolished Gem (2006), and the memoir picks up a couple of years later with the author having dusted away adolescence and now being in the midst of the equally ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'The Philanthropist' by John Tesarsch

February 2011, no. 328 04 May 2011
Fall guy Thuy On   The Philanthropist by John Tesarsch Sleepers Publishing, $27.95 pb, 284 pp, 9781740669979   The initial premise of John Tesarsch’s first novel sounds like a modern-day reworking of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol as seen through the prism of B-grade Hollywood melodrama. After recovering from a health scare, a hard-hearted capitalist suffers from nightmares in whic ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'The Voyagers' by Mardi McConnochie

May 2011, no. 331 21 April 2011
Sometimes you can get away with judging a book by its cover. Even without knowing the sub-title, a cursory glance at Mardi McConnochie’s latest novel suggests high romance, with its picture of an elegantly coiffed woman kissing her paramour against a seascape backdrop. Indeed, The Voyagers unashamedly plays with the emotions, tugging at a heartstring and releasing it momentarily before pulling a ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'The Golden Day' by Ursula Dubosarsky

May 2011, no. 331 21 April 2011
In 1967, eleven schoolgirls and their teacher take a field trip to the public gardens in Sydney. There, Miss Renshaw and her young charges meet the teacher’s friend and possible paramour – a gardener and a poet. The charismatic Morgan takes them to a nearby wet, low-roofed cave, ostensibly to see some sacred Dreamtime paintings. The girls are both giddy and alarmed at this unauthorised excursi ... (read more)
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