Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy won the 2013 Pascall Prize for cultural criticism, and the 2017 Horne Prize for her essay ‘The Limit of the World’. A former Editor of ABR (1986–87), she is one of Australia’s most prolific and respected literary critics. Her publications include several anthologies, a critical study of Helen Garner, and her book Adelaide, which was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. In November 2012 she was named as the inaugural ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellow. Her Fellowship article on reviewing, ‘Everyone’s a Critic’, appeared in the May 2013 issue of ABR.

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Blessed City' by Gwen Harwood

November 1990, no. 126 01 November 1990
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Blessed City' by Gwen Harwood
Gwen Foster met Lieutenant Thomas Riddell in Brisbane in 1942, when she was twenty­-two. ‘Tony’ Riddell, stationed in Brisbane, was sent to Darwin early in 1943; and between January and September of that year, Gwen Foster wrote him the eighty-nine letters that make up this book. It’s the chronicle of a year, of a city, of a family, of a friendship, of a war no one could see an end to, an ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Geography' by Sophie Cunningham

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Geography' by Sophie Cunningham
The first book of fiction is a little sub-genre with a number of readily recognisable features. It’s loosely structured and tends to be episodic, without much of a plot. It’s at least partly about love and sex, preferably of an obsessive or otherwise significant kind. And it’s at least partly autobiographical. If it’s already a bad book, then these things do tend to make it worse, but if i ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Love Is Strong As Death' edited by Paul Kelly

March 2020, no. 419 24 January 2020
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Love Is Strong As Death' edited by Paul Kelly
The assertion that ‘love is strong as death’ comes from the Song of Solomon, a swooning paean to sexual love that those unfamiliar with the Old Testament might be startled to find there. Songwriter and musician Paul Kelly has included it in this hefty, eclectic, and beautifully produced anthology of poetry, which has ‘meaningful gift’ written all over it.  In a brisk but friendly and ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Damascus' by Christos Tsiolkas

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Damascus' by Christos Tsiolkas
The man traditionally held to have written about half of the New Testament is variously known as Saul of Tarsus, Paul the Apostle, and St Paul. Initially an enthusiastic persecutor of the earliest Christians, he underwent a dramatic conversion shortly after the Crucifixion, and it is on this moment that his life, and Christos Tsiolkas’s new novel, both turn. Damascus covers the period 35–87 CE ... (read more)

'After the Academy' by Kerryn Goldsworthy

June–July 2002, no. 242 01 June 2002
‘... the reasons why anybody is an expatriate, or why another chooses to return home, are such personal ones that the question can only be answered in a personal way.’ Patrick White, 'The Prodigal Son'   At seven o’clock on the morning of 2 February 1999, I was due at the Memorial Hospital in North Adelaide to relieve my older sister at my mother’s bedside, where she had been all n ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Other People’s Words' by Hilary McPhee

May 2001, no. 230 01 May 2001
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Other People’s Words' by Hilary McPhee
‘The characters which survive,’ wrote Hilary McPhee at seventeen in the copy of Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native that she studied in her tiny matriculation class at Colac High in 1958, ‘are those who make some compromise with their surroundings.’ Twenty years later and five hundred miles away, I was given a book for my birthday. It was a hardback with a black-and-white photograph ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews three books on Charmaine Clift

July 2001, no. 232 01 July 2001
‘AT NIGHT,’ wrote Charmian Clift one summer in the late 1950s on the Greek island of Hydra where she lived with her husband and children, where the harbour village had been invaded by summer tourists, where teams of local Greek matrons invaded the kitchen in relays to monitor the foreign woman’s housework and mothering techniques, where the water supply was rapidly drying up, where she and h ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Drylands' by Thea Astley

September 1999, no. 214 06 August 2019
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Drylands' by Thea Astley
Do not attempt to judge this book by its amazingly beautiful but iconographically confusing cover. A close-up photograph of a single leaf shows its veins and pores in tiny detail. The colours are the most pastel and tender of creamy greens. Superimposed over this lush and suggestively fertile image is the book’s one-word title: Drylands. I love Thea Astley’s writing and always have. I love it ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Dreams of Speaking' by Gail Jones

February 2006, no. 278 01 February 2006
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Dreams of Speaking' by Gail Jones
If you can say immediately what you think a novel is ‘about’, then the chances are that it may not be a very good novel. Fiction as a genre gives writers and readers imaginative room to move, to work on a vertical axis of layers of meaning as well as along the horizontal forward movement of narrative development. But when hesitating over the question ‘what is this novel about?’, one good ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Fled' by Meg Keneally

June–July 2019, no. 412 23 May 2019
Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Fled' by Meg Keneally
In 1961 the great Australian poet Judith Wright published an influential essay called ‘The Upside-down Hut’ that would puzzle contemporary readers. The basis of its argument was that Australia felt shame about its convict origins, and that we needed to move on. And we have: since 1961 the representation of the convict era in fiction and on screen has undergone a shift. Having convict ancestry ... (read more)