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Jennifer Mills

Jennifer Mills

Jennifer Mills is an author, editor and critic living on Kaurna Yerta (Adelaide). Her novel Dyschronia was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin, Aurealis, and Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature in 2019. Mills’s latest book is The Airways, a queer ghost story set in Sydney and Beijing, published in 2021 by Picador.

Jennifer Mills reviews 'Stone Yard Devotional' by Charlotte Wood

December 2023, no. 460 27 November 2023
'Arrive finally at about three.’ The opening sentence of Charlotte Wood’s seventh novel does a lot in five simple words, emblematic of her gift for compression. With the direct, truncated prose of a diary entry, we are suddenly on intimate terms with another mind, impatient to begin. The unnamed narrator is a woman alone, returning to the country town where she grew up and where her parents ar ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills reviews 'Ordinary Gods and Monsters' by Chris Womersley

September 2023, no. 457 25 August 2023
In his essay on the uncanny, Sigmund Freud observed that fiction writers have an unusual privilege in setting the terms of the real, what he called a ‘peculiarly directive power’: ‘by means of the moods he can put us into, he is able to guide the current of our emotions’, and ‘often obtains a great variety of effects from the same material’. Since The Low Road (2007), Chris Womersley ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills reviews 'Audition' by Pip Adam

August 2023, no. 456 24 July 2023
Myths about space travel have always been uncomfortably tangled with incarceration and exile. Author Manu Saadia has described the private plans of the current crop of hubristic billionaires as ‘carceral fantasies’. Despite science fiction’s recent utopian turn, there is no reason to believe that space colonisation will be anything but a repeat of the earthly version’s violent history. Gia ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills reviews 'A Country of Eternal Light' by Paul Dalgarno

March 2023, no. 451 25 February 2023
When a book takes its title from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, you can expect the shock of something supernatural. But although Paul Dalgarno’s A Country of Eternal Light is narrated by a dead woman, there is little here to horrify. Margaret Bryce is a self-conscious and self-questioning narrator. We find her shuffling, or being shuffled, through scenes from her life like old photographs. Neit ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills on the National Cultural Policy

March 2023, no. 451 23 February 2023
Policy announcements are a peculiar kind of theatre, and Labor’s launch of its new five-year arts plan, Revive, was a strong example of the genre. It was held at Melbourne’s iconic Espy in St Kilda, a venue where arts audiences were treated to words of encouragement from Minister Tony Burke on his speaking tour to spruik the submissions process in 2022, and where ‘DJ Albo’ once entertain ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills reviews 'Moon Sugar' by Angela Meyer

November 2022, no. 448 25 October 2022
There is an experiment at the heart of Angela Meyer’s second novel, Moon Sugar. Without going into spoiler-level detail, it unlocks something in her protagonists, offering them new ways to connect with each other and the world around them. This experiment is a neat metaphor for Meyer’s own; by slipping between genres, her fiction strives to upend readerly expectations, expanding the possibilit ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills reviews 'Limberlost' by Robbie Arnott

October 2022, no. 447 27 September 2022
Limberlost opens with an image of nature as dangerous: a whale, reportedly driven mad or feral by a harpoon in its side, is alleged to be destroying fishing boats in a vengeful spree. Ned is five, and the whale stories haunt him so much that his father takes him out to see for himself. The frightened child waits in a small boat for the animal’s power to show itself. Though Ned is at the centre ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills reviews 'The Diplomat' by Chris Womersley

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
In Chris Womersley’s novel Cairo (2013), a middle-aged man looks back as his seventeen-year-old self is caught up in the notorious theft of Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria by a group of bohemian artists. The heist-Bildungsroman combination is energetic, and decades of distance give Tom Button’s narration a lush, nostalgic quality. His sifted memories of 19 ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills reviews 'Banjawarn' by Josh Kemp

April 2022, no. 441 23 March 2022
The latest in a new crop of outback gothic fiction, Josh Kemp’s début has everything readers have come to expect from the genre. There’s a messed-up bloke with a past. There’s a lost girl, ten years old and traumatised. There’s plenty of guilt and shame, damaged landscapes, haunted houses, injecting drug use, altered states, brutal acts of violence, and of course, there is the road. ... (read more)

Jennifer Mills reviews 'Australiana' by Yumna Kassab

March 2022, no. 440 21 February 2022
Australiana opens with a break-in. Lifting away a flyscreen, strangers climb into a man’s house, help themselves to his biscuits. The crime doesn’t feel important – it’s the fourth in a month, we’re told – but the intrusion does. It evokes the entanglements of small towns, the way in which lives intersect, physical proximity breaking down the barriers of class and culture and personal ... (read more)