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Cassandra Pybus

Cassandra Pybus

Cassandra Pybus is an independent scholar and prizewinning author of twelve books of nonfiction, published in Australia, USA, Canada, and Britain. Her most recent book is Truganini: Journey through the apocalypse (Allen and Unwin).

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'The Great Indian Novel' by Shashi Tharoor

October 1994, no. 165 01 October 1994
For the untutored Western reader this exuberant and clever novel about the histrionics of twentieth-century Indian politics invites comparison with Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. But this is a mistake. Tharoor covers similar territory to Rushdie, and gives voice to the same virulent distaste for the late Mrs Gandhi, but his book couldn’t be more different. The Great Indian Novel is not a to ... (read more)

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'From a Chair in the Sun: The life of Ethel Turner' by A.T. Yarwood

November 1994, no. 166 01 November 1994
When most of literary publishing is in the doldrums, literary biographies are seen to be the one bright line in the publisher’s balance sheet. Such is the enthusiasm for biographies that a bevy of scribblers are at this moment casting about for a writer who hasn’t already been ‘done’. I find something unset­tling about this voyeuristic fascination where the life of a writer has come to ... (read more)

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'This Whispering in Our Hearts' by Henry Reynolds

June 1998, no. 201 01 June 1998
I remember a conversation a year or so ago with an Australian scholar who had recently returned after a stint in Europe and was astonished to hear colleagues refer to Henry Reynolds as a ‘populariser’ and not true historian. I’ve heard it myself. Now that Reynolds has become a full-time writer we can expect to hear it more often. All of which goes a long way toward explaining why academic hi ... (read more)

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'Red Hot Notes' edited by Carmel Bird

April 1996, no. 179 01 April 1996
Were it not for the timing, it would be easy to speculate that this richly evocative collection of pieces about music was the inspiration for Jane Campion’s glorious film, The Piano. So many elements of the film – the dominant image of the beached piano, the powerful undertow of sexual passion, even the unexpected violence-are present in this book in the most uncanny similitude. I should not b ... (read more)

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'Going on Talking' by Judith Wright

February–March 1993, no. 148 01 February 1993
Perusing the Australia Day honours list, I was disappointed to see that Judith Wright had not been honoured with a major award. She is one of our greatest living poets, a pioneer environmentalist, and a tireless champion of Aboriginal rights. In this year, when the nation is still coming to terms with the momentous implications of the Mabo decision, it is worth remembering that Wright has been a k ... (read more)

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'Performances' by Greg Dening

July 1996, no. 182 01 July 1996
Greg Dening was trained for the Catholic priesthood. He became an outstanding historian of the Pacific, although perhaps better described as an anthropologist-historian, in company with Clifford Geertz, Marshall Sahlins, Nathalie Zemon Davis, and his colleague Rhys Isaac, to whom this book is warmly dedicated. Yet echoes of his initial calling linger in his work, certainly as evidenced in this col ... (read more)

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'The First Stone' by Helen Garner

May 1995, no. 170 01 May 1995
‘In the struggle between the public’s inviolable right to be diverted and the individual’s wish to be left alone, the public almost always prevails.’ Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman ‘… these feminist bitches (you won’t mind me using that word because that’s what they are), these feminist bitches who told lies to destroy a man’s career …’ John Laws on The First Stone ... (read more)

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'The Blue Guitar' by Nicholas Hasluck

April 1989, no. 109 07 February 2020
In the wake of the spectacular collapse of Rothwells and unsavoury revelations about Western Australian entrepreneurial enterprise, it is very apposite for Penguin to have republished Nick Hasluck’s 1980 novel, The Blue Guitar. This novel, as relevant now as nine years ago, deals with the world of entrepreneurship with its illusory money, fast talk, and duplicity. It is a world of the corrupt an ... (read more)