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Coronavirus and Australian Book Review

April 2020, no. 420

Coronavirus and Australian Book Review

April 2020, no. 420

After a summer of bushfires across the nation and phenomenal loss and destruction, Australia – like the rest of world – now faces a health crisis of fearsome scope. As we go to press (earlier than planned because of present uncertainties), the scale of the threat, unprecedented in our times, is becoming stark.

Australian Book Review is mindful of the enormous challenges posed by the coronavirus and by the real threat to people’s health, movement, livelihood, and recreation. We have readers, contributors, and partners around the world, and we are thinking of them. The most important thing is to stay healthy. I and my colleagues wish our friends and associates well.

Literature, art, music, ideas matter more than ever at times like this. Never has reasoned argument or cogent journalism been more important than it is now. ABR is committed to providing such, notwithstanding any changes to our present situation.

It is impossible to predict what will happen in coming weeks and months. ABR is doing its best to prepare for closures, stringencies, or contractions. We anticipate delays in the delivery of the print edition in coming months. We apologise in advance for any disruption.

Our friends in the performing arts are gravely affected by the coronavirus. Festivals, concerts, whole seasons in fact are being cancelled or negatively impacted. We feel for these professionals immensely. ABR Arts will of course maintain its weekly coverage of music, theatre, and the visual arts.

Literature and journalism have a unique dispensation – and responsibility – in the digital age. The online edition of ABR will be unaffected by any interruptions to printing or postal services. We’re taking steps to ensure quality, diversity, and regularity. Our website – with its growing archive stretching back to 1978 – may assume even greater importance in coming months as a platform for reviews, essays, commentary, and creative writing. The new ABR Podcast will also enable us to communicate freely with readers. In late March, for instance, a dozen noted poets and close associates of the magazine will read poems that seem to speak to these anxious-making times.

All current individual print subscribers are entitled to complimentary access to the online edition. If you have not signed up for the latter, we encourage you to do so by emailing Grace Chang at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by ringing (03) 9699 8822 to request log-in details for the digital edition. This way you will have constant access to our digital resources.

Since 1961 Australian Book Review has provided readers with thoughtful reviews, incisive commentary, and fine new writing. Ours is a small team – just five of us, which sometimes surprises people – but it’s full of purpose, camaraderie, and resolve.

Enjoy this issue of ABR – and all the ones that will follow. Meanwhile, let’s hope this new pestilence is quickly eradicated. 

Peter Rose, 17 March 2020

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