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Anna MacDonald

Anna MacDonald

Anna MacDonald is a Melbourne-based writer and bookseller. She is the author of a collection of essays, Between the Word and the World, and a novel, A Jealous Tide

Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Price of Two Sparrows' by Christy Collins, 'Repentance' by Alison Gibbs, 'Low Expectations' by Stuart Everly-Wilson, and 'Friends and Dark Shapes' by Kavita Bedford

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
To survey concurrent works of art is to take the temperature of a particular time, in a particular place. And the temperature of the time and place in these four début Australian novels? It is searching for a sense of belonging, and, at least in part, it’s coming out of western Sydney in the wake of the 2005 Cronulla riots. All four novels are set in New South Wales, three of them in suburban S ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'On Beverley Farmer: Writers on Writers’ by Josephine Rowe

December 2020, no. 427 13 November 2020
In her essay On Beverley Farmer, Josephine Rowe recounts a 2013 visit to Melbourne’s Heide Museum of Modern Art to see an exhibition of Louise Bourgeois’s Late Works. Among the drawings and sculptures on display was The Waiting Hours, described by Rowe as ‘a series of twelve small oceanscapes’ each of which shifts fluidly, a ‘darkening whorl around the small white axis of a singular sour ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'Honeybee' by Craig Silvey

November 2020, no. 426 22 October 2020
Honeybee, Craig Silvey’s highly anticipated new novel, his first since Jasper Jones (2009), chronicles the coming of age of fourteen-year-old transgender narrator Sam Watson, who was assigned male at birth. This is a story of desperate loneliness and fear, of neglect, family violence, betrayal, and self-disgust. But it is also one of love and solidarity, a celebration of the kindness of stranger ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'There Was Still Love' by Favel Parrett

November 2019, no. 416 26 September 2019
Favel Parrett’s tender new novel, There Was Still Love, explores what it means to make a home and how a person might be free in a world ruptured by political as well as personal upheavals. Moving backwards and forwards in time (from 1981 to 1938) across vast distances – from Prague to Melbourne, via London – between first- and third-person narrators, past and present tense, Parrett beautiful ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'Beautiful Revolutionary' by Laura Elizabeth Woollett

October 2018, no. 405 10 September 2018
Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s novel Beautiful Revolutionary chronicles the decade leading up to the Jonestown massacre in Guyana when Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple, orchestrated the ‘revolutionary suicide’ and murder of more than 900 members of his congregation, as well as the assassinations of US Congressman Leo Ryan, a delegation of journalists, and a defector from ‘the Cause’. ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Fortress' by S.A. Jones

May 2018, no. 401 26 April 2018
This speculative novel is of the Zeitgeist. S.A. Jones imagines a civilisation of women – the Vaik – committed to ‘Work. History. Sex. Justice.’ Although they live apart, in ‘The Fortress’, there is a history of exchange between the Vaik and the outside world. All women are entitled to Vaik justice if they have been violated and, according to a treaty that includes ‘biological guaran ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Everlasting Sunday' by Robert Lukins

April 2018, no. 400 27 March 2018
Set in England during the Big Freeze of 1962–63 – the coldest winter in nearly 300 years – Robert Lukins’s first novel tells the story of Radford, who is sent to live at Goodwin Manor, ‘a place for boys who have been found by trouble’. The Manor is overseen by Teddy, a charismatic depressive, who resists pressure to establish a ‘philosophy’ of reform and instead determines ‘only ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'A Scandal in Bohemia: The life and death of Mollie Dean' by Gideon Haigh

April 2018, no. 400 26 March 2018
A Scandal in Bohemia: The life and death of Mollie Dean is Gideon Haigh’s engrossing account of the circumstances surrounding the unsolved 1930 murder in Elwood of primary school teacher, aspiring journalist, and bohemian, Mollie Dean. Less true crime journalism than an interrogation of the genre, Haigh’s meticulously researched book recalls the ‘thick description’ of cultural history, whi ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'Her' by Garry Disher

January–February 2018, no. 398 22 December 2017
In this dark historical novel, Garry Disher imagines a world in which small girls are sold by their desperate families and enslaved to men such as the brutal ‘scrap man’ – ‘a schemer, a plotter, a trickster’ in whom ‘nothing ... rang true except rage and self-pity’ and who profits from the labour of womenfolk known as Wife, Big Girl, You, and Sister. Neither the scrap man, nor the wo ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'Half Wild' by Pip Smith

December 2017, no. 397 24 November 2017
In this inventive début novel, Pip Smith recounts the multiple lives of Eugenia Falleni, the ‘man-woman’ who in 1920, as Harry Crawford, was convicted of murdering his first wife, Annie Birkett. Smith employs various types of text–sketches, newspaper articles, witness statements – alongside third-person accounts – to embroider an archive rich in narrative possibilities. The story moves ... (read more)
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