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Sonia Nair

Sonia Nair

Sonia Nair is a Melbourne-based writer and critic, and Program Manager at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Sonia Nair reviews ‘Other Houses’ by Paddy O’Reilly

April 2022, no. 441 23 March 2022
Other Houses opens with its central character, Lily, cruising a drug-riddled suburb in search of her missing partner, Janks, who has disappeared, leaving her and their daughter, Jewelee, to fend for themselves. From the outset, Other Houses is grounded in Melbourne: from the suburban streets that Lily traverses late at night to escape her trauma to the highways that Janks drives along on a doomed ... (read more)

Sonia Nair reviews 'Lucky’s' by Andrew Pippos

November 2020, no. 426 22 October 2020
In Andrew Pippos’s immersive and multi-layered début novel, Lucky’s, a tragic shooting that occurs in the last bastion of a Greek-Australian restaurant franchise becomes the fulcrum around which mental health, heartbreak, displacement, and toxic masculinity are explored. Spanning the years between 1913 and 2002 and taking place across multiple continents (though Sydney is its primary backdro ... (read more)

Sonia Nair reviews 'The Coconut Children' by Vivian Pham

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
The Coconut Children is an assured début from nineteen-year-old novelist Vivian Pham, who has drawn upon the richness of Sydney’s south-western suburbs to construct a deeply affecting coming-of-age story revolving around teenager Sonny. Pham’s language is melodramatic at times. With bold flourishes she expertly captures the internal monologue of a teenage girl navigating the everyday travail ... (read more)

Sonia Nair reviews 'The House of Youssef' by Yumna Kassab

November 2019, no. 416 24 October 2019
Yumna Kassab has utilised the sparse economy of short stories to craft her début collection, grounding universal diasporic themes such as generational disconnect, cultural loss, and the weight of familial expectations in the distinct Lebanese-Australian social milieu of western Sydney, where she was born and raised. Short story collections often lack a certain cohesiveness, but Kassab’s charac ... (read more)

Sonia Nair reviews 'The Hope Fault' by Tracy Farr

September 2017, no. 394 25 August 2017
The minutiae and messiness of family life as it comes together and unravels time and time again are delicately rendered in Tracy Farr’s second novel, The Hope Fault. The unrelenting rain that forms the lugubrious backdrop for much of the novel conjures up the same rich, atmospheric setting of the late Georgia Blain’s Between a Wolf and a Dog (2016), and suffuses the story with a sense of foreb ... (read more)

Sonia Nair reviews 'Black British: A novel' by Hebe de Souza

November 2016, no. 386 28 October 2016
Set against the milieu of India’s recent emancipation from British rule and the indelible scars left by the country’s 1947 partition with Pakistan, Black British subverts the classic migrant tale. Instead of detailing a middling family uprooting their lives in search of economic opportunities on foreign shores, it features an affluent Goan family at its centre. They are looking to leave India ... (read more)

Sonia Nair reviews 'Chasing Shadows' by Leila Yusaf Chung

June–July 2014, no. 362 01 June 2014
A multi-generational saga straddling numerous countries and political régimes, Leila Yusaf Chung’s first novel, Chasing Shadows, largely alternates between middle child Ajamia’s viewpoint and her father Abu Fadi’s memories, thus giving an evocative portrait of Middle Eastern life in the late nineteenth century. Abu, a middle-aged Polish-Jewish man, fled his barren marriage in Łódź for Br ... (read more)