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Sue Kossew

Sue Kossew holds degrees from the Universities of Cape Town, East Anglia, and New South Wales. She is Emeritus Professor at Monash University, having been Chair of English and Literary Studies there from 2009–19, and is Honorary Professor at UNSW. Her work is in contemporary post-colonial literatures, with a focus on Australia and South Africa, and with particular interest in the work of J. M. Coetzee and contemporary women writers. She has published eight books and numerous articles and chapters. Her most recent books are Rethinking the Victim: Gender and violence in contemporary Australian women’s writing, co-authored with Anne Brewster (Routledge, 2019), and Reading Coetzee’s Women, edited with Melinda Harvey (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). Her current project, with Anne Brewster, is on Australian women writing war.

Sue Kossew reviews ‘Shooting Blanks at the Anzac Legend: Australian women’s war fictions’ by Donna Coates

March 2024, no. 462 22 February 2024
Near the beginning of Wifedom, Anna Funder describes a disappearing trick whereby a male magician conjures away his female assistant. She uses this as a trope for history’s tendency to make women vanish: ‘Where has she gone?’ Funder asks. This invisibility is especially the case in relation to women and war. Not only are women’s roles in wars downplayed or ignored, but women’s writing on ... (read more)

Sue Kossew reviews 'J.M. Coetzee and Neoliberal Culture' by Andrew Gibson

March 2023, no. 451 23 February 2023
Anyone who has read J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year (2007) will vividly recall the character Alan – annoyingly brash, unethical, self-serving and sexist; one of a new generation of tech-savvy investment consultants. For British academic, literary critic, and writer Andrew Gibson, in this new study of Coetzee, these are among the typical traits of neoliberal individualism that Coetzee ... (read more)

Sue Kossew reviews 'Our Shadows' by Gail Jones

October 2020, no. 425 24 September 2020
Gail Jones’s new novel, Our Shadows, provides readers with another virtuoso performance, showing a writer fully in control of her medium. It is a poetic and beautifully crafted evocation of shadowy pasts whose traumatic effects (in the world and in individual lives) stretch deep into the present and the future. Set in Kalgoorlie and Sydney, the novel’s focus on mining provides both historical ... (read more)

Sue Kossew reviews 'Gail Jones: Word, image, ethics' by Tanya Dalziell

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
Gail Jones’s beautifully crafted narratives invite and reward careful reading. All her work bears the mark of her formidable intellect. Yet her texts don’t show off: they assert the primacy of embodied experience and interpersonal relationships as much as the inner life of the mind. They provoke you to attend to their many layers of meaning, often requiring at least two readings (and some rese ... (read more)

Sue Kossew reviews 'Late Essays: 2006–2017' by J.M. Coetzee

September 2017, no. 394 24 August 2017
While it is true that the essay as a genre has a long and continuous history, it is not always an easy form to categorise or define. J.M. Coetzee has himself contrasted the ‘rather tight discourse’ of criticism with the relative freedom of writing fiction. Indeed, essays – like those collected in this volume – require ‘slow reading’, a term derived from Friedrich Nietzsche’s statemen ... (read more)

Sue Kossew reviews 'The Schooldays of Jesus' by J.M. Coetzee

October 2016, no. 385 23 September 2016
In order to grasp the complexity of allusions in J.M. Coetzee's new novel, The Schooldays of Jesus, you need to have your wits about you. On the other hand, as with its prequel, The Childhood of Jesus (2013), the novel may also be read fairly simply, as a fable. As a sequel to the first 'Jesus' novel, it progresses the story of Simón, Inés, and David, the 'holy family,' as they continue their jo ... (read more)