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An interview with Jacqueline Kent

March 2021, no. 429

An interview with Jacqueline Kent

March 2021, no. 429

Jacqueline Kent is a Sydney-based writer of biography and other non-fiction. Her memoir Beyond Words: A year with Kenneth Cook (UQP, 2019) was shortlisted for the 2020 National Biography Award. Her most recent book is Vida: A woman for our time (Penguin, 2020). She first wrote for ABR in 1995.

Jacqueline Kent


What makes a fine critic?

Somebody who understands and explains clearly and concisely what is in the book being reviewed, what the author is attempting to do and how successfully, giving praise and criticism where due – not the book the critic thinks the author should have written, and didn’t. Someone whose evaluation is fair and dispassionate, possibly illuminated by the critic’s own knowledge. Someone who can do all this without scoring points, showing off, making jokes at the writer’s expense, or defending his or her own academic or other territory. Amazing there are so many, really.

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