Welcome to the August Fiction issue! Highlights include:
- The three shortlisted stories in this year’s Jolley Prize
- Peter Rose on same-sex marriage
- Darius Sepehri’s Calibre Prize essay ‘To Speak of Sorrow’
- Tom Griffiths reviews a new book on the climate catastrophe
- Bernadette Brennan on Sarah Sentilles’s hymn for the victims of war
- Interviews with Louise Adler and Gregory Day
August 2017, no. 393
Sarah Sentilles’s Draw Your Weapons is one of the most erudite, original, and thought-provoking books I have ever read. A philosophical and moral meditation on pain, torture, and the violence of war – part memoir, part history, even a kind of secular prayer – this book asks us to look at terrible human darkness while also celebrating the ways in which love, connectedness, and the making of art nourish and redeem the human spirit.
The planet is alive, says Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh, and only for the last three centuries have we forgotten that. This is because humans are suffering from ‘The Great Derangement’, a disturbing condition which this book analyses with wisdom and grace. Ghosh foresees that future citizens of a world transformed by climate change will look back at our time and perceive that ‘most forms of art and literature were drawn into the modes of concealment that prevented people from recognising the realities of their plight’ ...
House of Names is a grim book, as any retelling of Aeschylus’s Oresteia is bound to be. It is a tale to harrow up your soul, to make your two eyes start from their spheres – or at least, it is until ten pages before the end, when Elektra cracks the book’s first joke and the tone becomes a touch mellower.
At the first interview, I sat in a plastic canteen chair while Berkeley lay under a towel and a woman with spiked hair dug into the cords of his thigh. He rested his chin on his forearms so he could talk, his eyes boring into my notebook, as if he could read the questions upside-down from the massage table. His blonde eyebrows faded into his skin and made his forehead look overdeveloped ...