Jane Sullivan

Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia (Peter Lang), a fascinating compendium of Jewish musicians who found refuge in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, is now available in Australian Diana K. Weekes’s excellent translation ...

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'Why do we write?' asks David Brooks at the start of this exhilarating collection of short stories. 'What are we groping for?' The entire collection seems like an attempt to answer a question that the author acknowledges is unanswerable. Yet there is no futility here. His groping, as he calls it, charms and disturbs and conjures up images of extraordinary, if fleeti ...

Jennifer Maiden's The Fox Petition: New Poems (Giramondo) conjures foxes 'whose eyes were ghosts with pity' and foxes of language that transform the world's headlines

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Kazuo Ishiguro recently sparked off a literary row about whether 'serious' writers should dabble in fantasy when he insisted rather too strongly that he was not writing fantasy in his latest novel The Buried Giant (2015). All those giants and pixies, knights and d ...

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

Oddfellows by by Nicholas Shakespeare

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March 2015, no. 369

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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The Wonders by Paddy O’Reilly

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August 2014, no. 363

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 ...

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 I idolised when I was starting out in England and didn’t know much about anything: Kenneth Tynan on theatre; Pauline Kael on film; Clive James on television. More recently, James Wood on literature. And many Australians!

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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 ...

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