Thuy On

Thuy On

Thuy On is books editor of The Big Issue. She's also an arts journalist/critic who has written for a variety of publications including The Australian, The Age/SMH, The Saturday Paper, Books+Publishing, and ArtsHub. Her first book of poetry, Turbulence, was published by UWAP. She's one of three recipients of the 2020 SRB Juncture Fellowships. 

Thuy On reviews 'The Scandal of the Season' by Sophie Gee

June 2007, no. 292 01 June 2007
Thuy On reviews 'The Scandal of the Season' by Sophie Gee
The Rape of The Lock helped secure Alexander Pope’s reputation as a commanding poet of the early eighteenth century. This mock-epic poem, based on a real incident, satirises the trivialities of high society by comparing it with the epic world of the gods. One of Pope’s acquaintances, Lord Petre, cut off a ringlet of hair from his paramour Arabella, thereby causing a breach of civilities betwee ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Pushing Back' by John Kinsella

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
Thuy On reviews 'Pushing Back' by John Kinsella
Comprising more than thirty works of poetry, fiction, memoir, and criticism, John Kinsella’s prolific output is impressive, and this figure doesn’t include his collaborations with other artists. Here is a writer who swims between boundaries, experiments with form and content, and eludes easy categorisation. His most recent novel, Hollow Earth (2019), was a foray into science fiction and fantas ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'The Dressmaker' by Rosalie Ham and 'Black Hearts' by Arlene J. Chai

October 2000, no. 225 01 October 2000
Thuy On reviews 'The Dressmaker' by Rosalie Ham and 'Black Hearts' by Arlene J. Chai
Set in the 1950s in a tiny Australian country town called Dungatar, Rosalie Ham’s The Dressmaker explores the rippling effects of chaos when a woman returns home after twenty years of exile in Europe. Tilly Dunnage was expelled from Australia in a fog of hate and recrimination; her neighbours have never forgiven her for an act Tilly thought was predicated upon self-preservation, but others chose ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Loner' by Georgina Young, 'The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love' by Davina Bell, and 'You Were Made for Me' by Jenna Guillaume

October 2020, no. 425 24 September 2020
These three Young Adult novels differ wildly in tone, execution – even their grasp on reality. Loner by Georgina Young Text Publishing, $24.99 pb, 256 pp Buy this book Georgina Young’s début novel, Loner, won the Text Prize for an unpublished Young Adult manuscript in 2019, and was a deserving winner. Text has decided to market it as adult fiction, but it works well as a crossover novel. He ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Sustenance' by Simone Lazaroo

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
Thuy On reviews 'Sustenance' by Simone Lazaroo
Food is often used as a metaphor for a range of emotions, and this device is underscored in Simone Lazaroo’s fourth book. The title alludes to the idea of nourishment as a substitute for love, sex and religion. Indeed, the protagonist, Malaysian Perpetua de Mello, is a chef at a four-and-a-half-star Balinese tourist resort, the Elsewhere Hotel. Although the slogan in its promotional flyer encour ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Swallow the Air' by Tara June Winch

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
Thuy On reviews 'Swallow the Air' by Tara June Winch
Swallow the Air won the 2004 David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writers. Judging by this slender volume of work, the choice was a judicious one. Thematically, Tara June Winch’s début effort travels along the well-worn path of fiction based on personal experiences, with the protagonist propelling the narrative through a journey of self-discovery. In this respect, Swallow the Air nestles snugly i ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'The Paper House' by Anna Spargo-Ryan

September 2016, no. 384 23 August 2016
Thuy On reviews 'The Paper House' by Anna Spargo-Ryan
The Paper House begins benignly, even buoyantly, with a recently married couple, a new house, and the stirrings of pregnancy. But the intense grief that suddenly upheaves the narrative sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Set on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, this début is an affecting portrait of a family pulled together and wrenched apart by mental illness. After a loss, Heather sinks int ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Twitcher' by Cherise Saywell

March 2013, no. 349 07 March 2013
Thuy On reviews 'Twitcher' by Cherise Saywell
When sixteen-year-old Kenno and his family are evicted from their coastal rental property, Kenno is unconcerned: he has a cunning plan that will give them enough money to purchase his dream home. The idea involves lodging a compensatory claim for an accident that happened years ago. But Kenno needs his older sister, Lou, to fill in the details. She has a welted and bluish scar on her forehead, a p ... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Big River Little Fish' by Belinda Jeffrey

November 2010, no. 326 07 October 2011
The birth of Tom Downs on the banks of the Murray River in South Australia tragically coincided with the death of his mother. His premature arrival – in the breech position – subsequently informs how his life is played out. Now fifteen and illiterate, he is considered by some in the rural community of Swan Reach as rather backward (hence his nickname, ‘Mot’). But Tom is adept with his hand ... (read more)

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

October 2011, no. 335 27 September 2011
Thuy On reviews 'All I Ever Wanted' by Vikki Wakefield
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. F ... (read more)
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