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Alice Nelson

Alice Nelson

Alice Nelson is a Western Australian writer. Her most recent novel, The Children’s House, was published by Penguin Random House in 2018, and Faithless is forthcoming in August 2022.

Alice Nelson reviews 'The Sentence' by Louise Erdrich

January–February 2022, no. 439 22 December 2021
Edith Wharton, famed purveyor of ghost stories, said that she needed her reader to meet her halfway among the primeval shadows; that to believe in the fetches, haunts, and other ‘spectral strap-hangers’ that filled her pages one must still be able to hear the distant echo of the hoarse music of the northern Urwald or the churning darks seas of the outermost shores. The spectral presence in Lou ... (read more)

Alice Nelson reviews 'Believe in Me' by Lucy Neave

September 2021, no. 435 19 August 2021
Halfway through Lucy Neave’s new novel Believe in Me, there is an astonishing scene in which an orphaned foal is dressed in the skin of a newly dead foal, the skewbald coat threaded with baling twine and the strings knotted under the throat and chest. Disguised in this fleshy coat, strands of bloody muscle still clinging to it, the foal is presented hopefully to its foster mother. The novel’s ... (read more)

Alice Nelson reviews 'Jack' by Marilynne Robinson

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
To read a novel by Marilynne Robinson is to step into a god-haunted world. Hers is a universe both recognisable and brilliant with strangeness, where glory and mystery abound, where revelation is never finished and souls are argued over with the greatest of gravity. At once mythic in scale and deeply attentive to the textures of this world, Robinson’s novels are full of people for whom notions o ... (read more)

Alice Nelson reviews 'Desire Lines' by Felicity Volk

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
The poet Anne Michaels once wrote that when love finds us, our pasts suddenly become obsolete science. All the secret places left fallow by loneliness are flooded with light and the immanence of the longed-for one draws us into the clearing, stains us with radiance. Yeats’s wing-footed wanderer arrives at last and the miraculous restorations of love and the imperatives of desire render our separ ... (read more)

Alice Nelson reviews 'Actress' by Anne Enright

March 2020, no. 419 21 February 2020
Anne Enright has never been able to resist the tidal pull of mothers; her novels are animated by complex, ambivalent maternal presences, women rendered on the page with duelling measures of hatred and hunger, empathy and censure. There is the mercurial tyrant Rosaleen Madigan of The Green Road (2015), ‘a woman who did nothing and expected everything’. There is the hapless, hazy Maureen Hegarty ... (read more)

Alice Nelson reviews 'Act of Grace' by Anna Krien

October 2019, no. 415 25 September 2019
A young Aboriginal girl wears an abaya because she wants to see how it feels to inhabit someone else’s experience, someone else’s history. An exiled Iraqi musician plays a piano in a shopping centre in suburban Melbourne. Native Americans protesting the construction of a pipeline on their traditional lands are shot at with water cannons and rubber bullets. Countries are lost, sacred sites inva ... (read more)

Alice Nelson reviews 'Room for a Stranger' by Melanie Cheng

May 2019, no. 411 22 April 2019
What does it mean to live in a place but never to fully belong to it? How does our capacity for intimacy alter when we are in exile? How do we forge an identity among haphazard collisions of cultures and histories? These are the questions that Melanie Cheng has limned with potent and eloquent effect in her acclaimed short story collection Australia Day (2017), which won the Victorian Premier’s ... (read more)

Alice Nelson reviews 'Cedar Valley' by Holly Throsby

January-February 2019, no. 408 18 December 2018
In the first few pages of Cedar Valley, a group of women gather together to console one another after a calamitous event shatters the predictable languor of their small rural town. Pulling chairs into a circle, they pour glasses of brandy in the soft light of early evening and reflect on the day’s events, offering succour and speculation as the sky darkens around them. It is this compelling sens ... (read more)

Alice Nelson reviews 'Matryoshka' by Katherine Johnson

November 2018, no. 406 25 October 2018
Half a century ago, the Palestinian writer Edward Said described the state of exile as ‘the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home’. Its essential sadness, he believed, was not surmountable. The crippling sorrows of exile and estrangement, and the disfiguring legacies of intergenerational trauma, pervade Katherine Johnson’s powerfu ... (read more)