Beejay Silcox

It’s difficult to imagine a more hotly anticipated novel than Irish author Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You. Fiercely embargoed advance copies have sold for vast sums on eBay, and British publisher Faber even set up a custom Sally Rooney store – featuring branded bucket hats, tote bags, and a coffee truck. The author’s two prior works, Conversations with Friends and Normal People, garnered critical acclaim for their insights into young love in the modern age, with pundits even declaring her ‘the first great Millennial novelist’. ABR critic Beejay Silcox delves into Rooney’s latest work for our October issue, available to read tomorrow, September 30. In today’s episode, Beejay first discusses the entangled process of critiquing Beautiful World, Where Are You, before reading her review in full.

... (read more)

By the time I received my heftily embargoed galley of Sally Rooney’s new novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, it would have been more lucrative to auction the book online than review it, such is the wild demand for Rooney’s fiction, the monetised eagerness. I’ve ruined my chances for unethical riches with my margin scrawls, dog-ears, and penchant for spine-breaking (reading, after all, is a contact sport). But it is telling that the question I’ve been asked most about the novel, other than whether I intended to sell my advance copy, has not been What do you think? but Are you on Team Rooney? Popularity of any sort inevitably rouses a backlash, and it can be constructive – often revelatory – to parse the stories that capture our collective imagination. But Sally Rooney (the literary product, not the person) has become a kind of shibboleth. To profess a grand love or distaste for her novels, or even – perhaps especially – a lofty indifference to them, has become a declaration of pop-cultural allegiance, a statement that’s almost entirely about ourselves. It’s a fate that too often befalls precocious, art-making women: they’re turned into straw men and set publicly alight.

... (read more)

On 4 August 2020, Theodore Ell was living in Beirut, Lebanon, when an explosion erupted at the local port, killing more than 200 people and injuring more than 7,500. Ell and his wife, a diplomat, survived, but were badly shaken. At the encouragement of his close friend Beejay Silcox, Ell turned his experience into the essay ‘Façades of Lebanon’, a harrowing, intimate piece of reportage, and the deserving winner of the 2021 Calibre Essay Prize. In today’s episode, listen to Ell in conversation with Silcox about the inception of his prize-winning work, the balancing act of writing trauma and place, the historical complexities of Beirut, and more.

... (read more)

Throughout her childhood, Krissy Kneen was surrounded by make-believe. At the centre of this enchanted world was her grandmother Lotty, whose prodigious fabulations not only kept her family in thrall, but also hid painful memories of poverty and forced migration. In her new memoir, The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen, Kneen retraces her grandmother's journey from Slovenia to Australia. In today's episode, Kneen sits down with her friend Beejay Silcox, a past ABR Fellow and longtime contributor, to discuss their serendipitous meeting and Kneen's journey to uncover her family's history. 

... (read more)

In the wake of Brittany Higgins's startling allegations of sexual abuse in Parliament House, Beejay Silcox revisits her review of Witness by award-winning journalist Louise Milligan. Witness (recently shortlisted in the 2021 Stella Prize) is an interrogative critique of the criminal trial process. It is the culmination of five years of research into how witnesses are treated (and often intimidated or worse) in court rooms.

... (read more)

In 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his masterful novels, which, in the judges’ words, uncover 'the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world'. His new work, Klara and the Sun, is his first novel published since winning the Nobel Prize. In today's episode, Beejay Silcox discusses the novel and our expectations of the author, and reads in full her review which appears in ABR's March issue.

... (read more)

Klara is an Artificial Friend (AF), an android companion for spoiled tweens. She’s not the newest model, but what Klara lacks in top-of-the-line joint mobility and showy acrobatics, she makes up for in observational nous; she’s an uncommonly gifted reader of faces and bodies, a finely calibrated empathy machine. Every feeling Klara decodes becomes part of her neural circuitry. The more she sees, the more she’s able to feel.

... (read more)

The street entrance to the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court is a scoop-hungry gauntlet of journos who spend the day jostling for soundbites, ever ready to give chase. As a rookie reporter, Louise Milligan used to be part of the Sydney court scrum, but when she arrived to give evidence in Australia’s ‘Trial of the Decade’, she had become the story. In her investigative work for ABC’s Four Corners – which begat the Walkley Book Award-winning volume Cardinal: The rise and fall of George Pell (2017)Milligan had been the first person to hear one of the criminal accusations against the Vatican’s disgraced treasurer

... (read more)

Beejay Silcox began writing for ABR in September 2016 after infiltrating a Trump rally in rural Virginia. In 2018, she was ABR’s Fortieth Birthday Fellow. Her literary criticism and cultural commentary appears in national and international review publications.

... (read more)

In today's episode, Peter Rose talks to writers Beejay Silcox and Billy Griffiths about what they’ve been reading during this tumultuous year. They also speculate about some highlights of 2021. For those looking for a more extensive listing of this year's finest works, our Books of the Year features more than 30 different ABR critics nominating their favourite releases.

... (read more)
Page 1 of 4