Cassandra Atherton

Cassandra Atherton

Cassandra Atherton is a poet and scholar. She is Professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University. She was a Harvard Visiting Fellow in English and a Visiting Scholar in Comparative Culture at Sophia University, Tokyo. She is writing a book of prose poetry on the atomic bomb with funding from an Australia Council grant.

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'First Person Singular' by Haruki Murakami

May 2021, no. 431 26 April 2021
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'First Person Singular' by Haruki Murakami
‘Shall I scrub your back for you?” the monkey asked ... He had the clear, alluring voice of a doo-wop baritone. Not at all what you would expect.’ The eight short stories in First Person Singular are exactly what a reader has come to expect from Haruki Murakami, a writer with a penchant for neo-surrealism. The parabolic tales in this collection explore the familiar tropes and motifs of his o ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Hold Your Fire' by Chloe Wilson

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Hold Your Fire' by Chloe Wilson
A series of beautifully controlled fictional voices and an exquisite sense of literary craft contribute to the dark magnificence of Chloe Wilson’s début collection of short stories, Hold Your Fire. This volume explores the strange and sometimes surprising abject horror that characterises the quotidian and the ordinary. The stories both examine and revel in the classically Kristevan abject reali ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Inside the Verse Novel: Writers on writing' by Linda Weste

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Inside the Verse Novel: Writers on writing' by Linda Weste
In his description of the verse novel as ‘the awkward child of successful parents, destined to disappoint both of them’, Michael Symmons Roberts emphasises the form’s sometimes disjunctive use of literary techniques commonly associated with poetry and prose fiction. While the verse novel has gained popularity since the 1980s, many of its features may be traced to epic poems such The Epic of ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'The Hypermarket' by Gabriel García Ochoa

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'The Hypermarket' by Gabriel García Ochoa
The Hypermarket, an enigmatic and deeply uncanny novel, explores ‘mistranslation’ against the backdrop of Nietzsche’s philosophy of Eternal Return. Gabriel García Ochoa’s début novel transforms the Houghton Library at Harvard University into a Borgesian space. As the narrator is undertaking his research, he comes across an excerpt from a letter copied into an old diary. It details the li ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Lucky Ticket' by Joey Bui

November 2019, no. 416 24 October 2019
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Lucky Ticket' by Joey Bui
Lucky Ticket is a brave and haunting début collection of short stories by Vietnamese-Australian writer Joey Bui. In erudite stories of the displaced and dislocated, Bui’s characters are glistering survivors. Many of their voices ring out against the bleak political backdrop of Saigon, making the reader aware of the tyrannical government control and the lack of basic civil and political rights. ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Killing Commendatore' by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen

October 2018, no. 405 25 September 2018
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Killing Commendatore' by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen
There is a running joke in Japan that autumn doesn’t start each year until Haruki Murakami has lost the Nobel Prize for Literature. Most recently, in 2017, he lost to Kazuo Ishiguro, who was born in Japan but is now a British citizen. To date, two Japanese writers have been awarded the prize – Yasunari Kawabata (1968) and Kenzaburō Ōe (1994) – and many believe Murakami will be the next Jap ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Rubik' by Elizabeth Tan

November 2017, no. 396 25 October 2017
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Rubik' by Elizabeth Tan
Invoking the Rubik’s Cube – a puzzle where twenty-six ‘cubelets’ rotate around a core crosspiece – Rubik is less a novel and more a book of interconnected short stories exploring narcissism, neoliberalism, and consumerism. At the book’s core is Elena Rubik, who dies in the first chapter with a Homestyle Country Pie in her hand. Despite her demise, Elena remains the protagonist of the n ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Portable Curiosities' by Julie Koh

August 2016, no. 383 25 July 2016
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Portable Curiosities' by Julie Koh
Julie Koh's first full-length short story collection, Portable Curiosities, is an electrifying satire on Anglo-Australian hegemony and the underbelly of the Australian Dream. In twelve stories populated with ghostly lizard boys, 3D yellow people who step out of the cinema screen like the Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), and girls who grow cat ears and tails, Koh provides an existential context for the ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Freeman's' edited by John Freeman

December 2015, no. 377 30 November 2015
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Freeman's' edited by John Freeman
Arrival is the first volume in a new series of literary anthologies comprising previously unpublished fiction, non-fiction, and poetry edited by John Freeman, former editor of UK-based Granta. The book begins with a boring and self-indulgent introduction about the choice of theme: Arrival. Freeman explains that after experiencing serious turbulence on a flight to Syracuse, he 'never forgot how exh ... (read more)

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Feet to the Stars' by Susan Midalia

November 2015, no. 376 27 October 2015
Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Feet to the Stars' by Susan Midalia
Susan Midalia's Feet to the Stars references Sylvia Plath's poem 'You're', in which Plath addresses her unborn child: 'Clownlike, happiest on your hands, / Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled, / Gilled like a fish ...' This clever title foreshadows Midalia's exploration of children in the family dynamic and the use of intertextuality, which are integral to her short stories. This is Midalia's thi ... (read more)
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