Jane Sullivan

One of the most potent stories we can tell is a story of migration. With the exception of indigenous people, every Australian originally came from somewhere else. Take just one source: the emigrants from England. Kate Grenville writes about her convict and settler ancestry in her

Two aggrieved Islamic men follow a foreign cause and wage jihad on their fellow Australians. Shouting Allahu akbar, they stage an ambush, raise a home-made flag and open fire on hundreds of men, women and children. They escape and die in a final shoot-out. They leave four dead and seven wounded.

It could be ripped from today’s headlines – except i ...

Jane Sullivan reflects on the 'literary cathedrals' Hilary Mantel has erected in her new collection of short stories, The Assassination of  Margaret Thatcher.

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Jane Sullivan reviews 'The Wonders'

Jane Sullivan
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A while ago, I was walking through Melbourne Central station when I was buffeted on all sides. Muscular minders were pushing back a crowd of jostling fans from a red carpet. Everyone was holding iPhones above their heads. They had come to see two Hollywood stars. But Hollywood is different these days. One star was playing a mutant who could grow adamantium claws fro ...

Jane Sullivan is Critic of the Month

Jane Sullivan
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

When did you first write for ABR?

September 1991.

Which critics most impress you?

As a journalist, I have been constantly thrown in the deep end and expected to review everything from books to shows to films to restaurants. I still admire some classic figures ...

Iris Murdoch and Brian Medlin

Jane Sullivan
Tuesday, 29 April 2014

If you’re a bookish type of a certain age, chances are you went through your Iris Murdoch period. You binged on novels such as The Black Prince (1973) and The Sea, The Sea (1978); you immersed yourself in her world of perplexed, agonised souls searching for meaning, falling disastrously in love with absurdly wrong people, consoling themselves with a ...

Jane Sullivan reviews 'In the Memorial Room'

Jane Sullivan
Tuesday, 25 June 2013

This novel comes to us some forty years after it was written. Janet Frame (1924–2004) did not allow it to be published during her lifetime. Very probably she was anxious not to be seen as savaging the hands that had fed her: and it is indeed a gleeful, glorious savaging.


Jane Sullivan on 'The Love-charm of Bombs'

Jane Sullivan
Monday, 27 May 2013

My mother-in-law often spoke fondly of the Blitz. I had visions of her as a plucky young woman cycling down the bombed streets of London, going to work as a secretary to the stars of show business, enjoying ridiculously cheap hotel meals, and in the evenings going out on the town with an exciting boyfriend – perhaps a Turkish admiral, perhaps the man she later mar ...

Jane Sullivan reviews 'The Seaglass Spiral' by Alan Gould

Jane Sullivan
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

In his Introduction to The Seaglass Spiral, Finlay Lloyd reveals that an earlier version of this novel won an award for ‘best rejected manuscript’. It is a curiously back-handed compliment for a publisher to pay his author, and it is typical of an Introduction that seems cautious, even diffident, about its product.


How can Australians write fiction about Indigenous Australia? It is one of the most contentious literary questions today. There aren’t any rules, but writers – particularly white writers – are driven by a strange mix of passion and caution.

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