Alison Broinowski

The Gooneratnes’ mountain bungalow, overlooking rippling tea plantations, is called Pemberley, after Mr Darcy’s mansion. A wall plaque commemorates Elizabeth Bennet’s description of it. In the style of a modern Jane Austen, Yasmine Gooneratne takes up the enduring and universal question of who will marry whom, as Vikram Seth did in his mega-novel A Suitable Boy (1994), and at similarly entertaining length. The topic is Bollywood’s favourite too, but before writing The Sweet and Simple Kind, Professor Gooneratne, a specialist in eighteenth-century fiction and poetry, had not seen the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Detritus' by Robyn Archer

Alison Broinowski
Tuesday, 28 July 2020

A sarcastic little slogan on a wall in Australia’s arts funding organisation in the mid-1990s read ‘Il y a trop d’art’. All right, it was meant in jest, but it seemed to hint broadly at shared bureaucratic resentment of importunate artists, even though they were the Council’s clients and the reason, indeed, for its very existence. Remember the national health hospital in Yes Minister that ran perfectly until it had to take patients?

... (read more)

Not for forty years have Australians had real arguments with their governments about international relations. Many marched in 2003 against the Iraq invasion, but were ignored. Now, if the national obesity rate is any guide, Australians spend more time eating, partying and sleeping than having the earnest pre-breakfast discussions about foreign relations that Fukuzawa recommended.

... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Amnesty' by Aravind Adiga

Alison Broinowski
Friday, 20 March 2020

Much political mileage has been made in Australia from the turning back of ‘boat people’. Travel by boat is the cheapest means of getting to this island continent, and the most dangerous. Boat travellers are the poorest and the most likely to be caught and deported or sent to an offshore camp. But their number is less than half of those who arrive by air as tourists and apply for refugee protection: some 100,000 have done so during the seven years of this Coalition government.

... (read more)

Since the 1960s, US military bases have continuously occupied Australian territory, with the permission of successive governments. Of the original sites, the missile-launch tracker Nurrungar is closed and North West Cape no longer communicates with US nuclear submarines, but it has since gained space surveillance and military signals intelligence functions. Pine Gap ...

'September 11: A Symposium'

Monday, 23 September 2019

Never far from one’s mind these days, the events of September 11, 2001, and their direct aftermath in Afghanistan and elsewhere, had to be prominent in this month’s issue of ABR, such is their complex resonance and ubiquitous iconography. To complement Morag Fraser’s essay in this issue on the consequences of ‘September 11’ for civic ...

Alison Broinowski reviews Typhoon Kingdom by Matthew Hooton

Alison Broinowski
Thursday, 23 May 2019
In the May 2019 issue of Quadrant, its literary editor, Barry Spurr, inveighed against the ‘inane expansion of creative writing courses’. Professor Spurr’s scholarly accomplishments in the study of poetry and Australian fiction do not include creative writing. (His resignation from the University of Sydney was accepted in December 2014 ... ... (read more)

Our tutor in Japanese conversation at the Australian National University in 1968, rather than listen to us mangling his language, used to write the kanji for all the political factions on the board, with a Ramen-like chart of connections looping between them and multiple interest groups ...

... (read more)

A week after the Manchester Arena bombing, it emerged in the British media that MI5 had been warned about some of the terrorists but had apparently done nothing. M16, moreover, had reportedly encouraged British Libyans to join the 2011 civil war against Gaddafi. Their relatives, including the Manchester bomber, later went back and forth unimpeded between the United Kingdom and Libya.

... (read more)

Letters to the Editor - May 2017

Australian Book Review
Friday, 28 April 2017


Dear Editor,
All authors are perhaps oversensitive to reviews of their books, but I have never been tempted to quarrel with a reviewer until now. Alan Atkinson’s review of Scurvy: The disease of discovery (April 2017) contains a ...

Page 1 of 3