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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.

Reading Australia: 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' by Richard Flanagan

Reading Australia 24 March 2015
When Richard Flanagan won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for his sixth novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, it was not the first time that he had won an international fiction prize; his third novel, Gould's Book of Fish (2001), won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2002. Nor was it the first time that one of his novels had caused deep division among readers and critics; the influential Austra ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Mick' by Suzanne Falkiner

March 2016, no. 379 24 February 2016
Late in 1998, the Times Literary Supplement, as was its wont, sent Randolph 'Mick' Stow a book for review. It was Xavier Herbert: A Biography (1998) by Francis de Groen, and Stow accepted the commission with enthusiasm. 'What a ghastly, embarrassing old pillock,' he wrote to his lifelong friend Bill Grono. 'Well, you'll soon read my opinion of him.' Stow's review tells a personal story of an encou ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Thea Astley' by Karen Lamb

September 2015, no. 374 24 August 2015
‘If there are going to be any more of her novels, perhaps we should come right out and promote her as an utter bitch?’ So wrote Alec Bolton, the London manager of Angus & Robertson, to his senior editor John Abernethy in Sydney. The novelist in question was Thea Astley, and the book was A Boat Load of Home Folk (1968). Bolton had optimistically sent a copy of this bleak and savage novel ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas

Reading Australia 30 June 2015
The slap that I wanted to deliver with that book was to a culture in Australia that had literally made me sick, sick to the stomach. A middle class culture that struck me as incredibly selfish and ungenerous … I wanted to try and write a book ... that represented that culture. And to do that, honestly, I had to put myself in the middle of it. I also had to put my Greekness in the middle of that ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Forever Young' by Steven Carroll

June-July 2015, no. 372 27 May 2015
Most Australians, if asked to name a date they associate with the name Gough Whitlam, would say ‘11 November 1975’. Steven Carroll subverts this expectation at the outset with Forever Young, which uses the last days of Whitlam as its historical backdrop as well as for other less tangible things. And the last days of Whitlam came not in 1975 but on 10 December 1977, when he was still leading th ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'Tirra Lirra by the River' by Jessica Anderson

March 2015, no. 369 01 March 2015
In 1978, Australia’s two most coveted national literary prizes of the time were both won by women: Helen Garner’s first novel Monkey Grip (1977) won the National Book Council Award for fiction, and the Miles Franklin Literary Award was won by Tirra Lirra by the River (1978), Jessica Anderson’s fourth novel. Both of these books have since become classics of Australian literature, rarely out o ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Golden Age' by Joan London

September 2014, no. 364 01 September 2014
When the polio epidemics at the hinge of the twentieth century were catching hundreds of Australian children and adults in their web of pathogens, a pub in suburban Perth called ‘The Golden Age’ was converted – with its name unchanged – into a convalescent home for children who were recovering from polio but still unready to go back into the world. Joan London has used this fact as the sta ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'MaddAddam' by Margaret Atwood

October 2013, no. 355 25 September 2013
Any sequel, much less the final book of a trilogy, intensifies the dilemma presented to a reviewer who does not wish simply to provide a plot summary, but for whom it’s impossible to say anything coherent about the book without giving some idea of what happens in it. For any reader who might not have read or can’t clearly remember the first two books in this trilogy, Oryx and Crake (2003) and ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Big Brother' by Lionel Shriver

June 2013, no. 352 26 May 2013
The novel for which Lionel Shriver is best known, We Need to Talk about Kevin (2003), generated endless discussion across the spectrum of readers, from buzzing suburban home-based reading groups to the pages of the Guardian and the New York Times. Much of this discussion circled around the question of the first-person narrator and mother, Eva Khatchadourian, and her relationships with her uncompre ... (read more)

ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship: 'Everyone’s a Critic' by Kerryn Goldsworthy

May 2013, no. 351 24 April 2013
‘We place on paper without hesitation a tissue of flatteries, to which in society we could not give utterance, for our lives, without either blushing or laughing outright,’ wrote Edgar Allan Poe in 1846. His title was ‘The Literati of New York City’; his topic was the discrepancy, as he saw it, between the critics’ private opinions of books and the polite reviews of them that appeared in ... (read more)