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Judith Armstrong

Judith Armstrong

Judith Armstrong’s most recent book, War & Peace and Sonya, has just been republished in London by the Unicorn Press.

Judith Armstrong reviews ‘From Paesani to Global Italians: Veneto migrants in Australia’ by Loretta Baldassar and Ros Pesman

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
The 120,000 expatriate Italians living in Australia, all of them newly entitled to vote in the recent election, contributed significantly to the knife-edge defeat of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in April 2006. Before the counting of all such votes in the four electoral regions into which his own government had divided the world, Berlusconi looked to have a one-seat majority. Then the votes of ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews ‘Passarola Rising’ by Azhar Abidi

April 2006, no. 280 01 May 2006
In 1685, in São Paulo, Brazil, a boy was born called Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão. Sent north to Bahia to study with the Jesuits, who had constructed, in the steep-cliffed port of Salvador, an amazing ‘levador’ capable of hauling goods and people from ground-level to the heights above, Bartolomeu learned as much about physics as theology. Finding the fathers’ dedication to higher things, ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'The Biographer' by Virginia Duigan

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
If two swallows do not a summer make, two novels, no matter how similar, are no doubt insufficient to start a new literary sub-genre (no matter how ‘sub’). On the other hand, fashion is said to reflect the Zeitgeist; and biography, in this turbulent millennium, has become both favoured and fashionable. Is it possible then that quite soon a small shelf of the local library’s collection will b ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Murder on the Apricot Coast' by Marion Halligan

March 2008, no. 299 01 March 2008
Marion Halligan is a long-established fiction writer with an impressive list of publications. Even readers with only partial familiarity will recall that many of her novels have been informed by autobiographical material reflecting personal leanings and experiences, particularly her fondness for France, food and cooking, and the profound grief she sustained when her husband died. But in 2006 she c ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Twilight' by Azhar Abidi

September 2008, no. 304 01 September 2008
Azhar Abidi’s first novel, Passarola Rising (2006), told of some amazing adventures in a seventeenth-century flying ship, and it was a delight. His new novel could hardly be more different, yet gives just as much pleasure. It also tells a more probable story. Abidi is a Pakistani now living in Melbourne, where he maintains a family and a job in finance, as well, apparently, as meditating on the ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Nocturne' by Diane Armstrong

July–August 2008, no. 303 01 July 2008
Diane Armstrong is a prolific, award-winning journalist whose book-length publications began with a memoir of family history, Mosaic (1998), and The Voyage of their Life (2001), set on the SS Derna, which brought Polish-born Armstrong, her parents and 500 refugees to Australia in 1948. In 2004 Armstrong turned to fiction with Winter Journey, about a Polish-Australian forensic dentist. Now we have ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews ‘Dogboy’ by Eva Hornung

April 2009, no. 310 01 April 2009
Writing as Eva Sallis, Eva Hornung earned enough prizes and shortlistings to send a reviewer sprinting shame-faced to the nearest library. Fortunately, Joyce Carol Oates, with her inordinately prodigious output, sees no grounds for guilt: ‘Each book is a world unto itself, and must stand alone and it should not matter whether a book is a writer’s first, or tenth, or fiftieth.’ Thus, while a ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction' by Rowan Williams

May 2009, no. 311 01 May 2009
A book with a title such as this one necessarily invites a question: is it going to be a theological work using examples from the stated body of fiction, or an exercise in literary criticism confined mainly to religious themes, just as other critics might focus their discussion on political or psychological issues? Most authors would of course protest against this crude ‘either/or’ proposition ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Zhivago’s Children: The Last Russian intelligentsia' by Vladislav Zubok

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
It is genuinely hard for countries like Australia, which have never regarded a powerful and alternative intelligentsia as particularly crucial, to appreciate either the role such an entity famously played in Russia or what a homegrown one might offer. In 1955 Boris Pasternak, son of a pianist mother and artist father, announced ‘the dearest and most important themes’ of his new novel Dr Zhiva ... (read more)

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Document Z' by Andrew Croome

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
Devotees of the television program Spooks may find Australian history less than exciting, but the Petrov Affair is surely the exception that confounds the cliché. Its ingredients included the Cold War, espionage, agents, a defection (hugely important propaganda for the Menzies government on the eve of the 1954 federal election) and a charming woman, the defector’s wife, who was unceremoniously ... (read more)
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