Australian Fiction

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

Elisabeth Holdsworth reviews 'For the Patriarch' by Angelo Loukakis

Elisabeth Holdsworth
27 September 2011

For the Patriarch first appeared in 1981 and was much lauded, winning a New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award. The work is an important landmark in migrant writing. Angelo Loukakis, although born in Australia, identifies with the first generation of post-World War II migrants who are under-represented in our literature. Their children and grandchildren are the ones who have engage ... More

Carol Middleton reviews 'The Girl and the Ghost-Grey Mare' by Rachael Treasure

Carol Middleton
27 September 2011

The latest work by bestselling Tasmanian novelist Rachael Treasure is a collection of short stories, written at various stages of her career. At the age of thirteen, Treasure began writing mock Mills & Boon stories with her friends. The influence, and the mocking tone, are still there in the square-jawed heroes with chocolate- (or coffee-) coloured eyes and dark curls, but the stories veer ... More

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

Thuy On
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 ... More

Patrick Allington reviews 'Spirit of Progress' by Steven Carroll

Patrick Allington
23 August 2011

At the beginning of Steven Carroll’s new novel, Spirit of Progress, Michael stands on a platform of the Gare Montparnasse in Paris. Readers of Carroll’s ‘Glenroy’ trilogy will remember that Michael is Vic and Rita’s son – a boy who grew up with an unblinking grasp of his parents’ fractured marriage and who learned early to fend for himself. Now a man, Michael observes the ... More

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