Fiction

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You can’t escape the black square with the ominous slit: it’s about as familiar and inevitable in Australia as the icon for male or female. Ned’s iron mask now directs you to the National Library’s website of Australian images. There it is, black on red ochre, an importunate camera, staring back as we look through it ...

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Whether you track backwards in time from the hidden pestilence that is Chernobyl, or forwards from the vengeful terror of Stalin’s collectivisation and anti-nationalist policies, it is an inescapable fact that the Ukraine has had a bloody and awful century. In the winter of 1932-33 alone some four to five million Ukrainians died in ...

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Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Drylands' by Thea Astley

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Tuesday, 06 August 2019

Do not attempt to judge this book by its amazingly beautiful but iconographically confusing cover. A close-up photograph of a single leaf shows its veins and pores in tiny detail. The colours are the most pastel and tender of creamy greens. Superimposed over this lush and suggestively fertile image is the book’s one-word title: Drylands ...

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Nigel Krauth reviews 'The Grisly Wife' by Rodney Hall

Nigel Krauth
Tuesday, 06 August 2019

In 1868 John Heaps (alias Muley Moloch), a preacher, self-styled prophet, and trained bootmaker, left England with a group of eight women bound for Australia. Their intention was to set up a mission dedicated to the development of their own perfection and a preparation for the Second Coming of Christ ...

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Sophie Masson reviews 'The Ancestor Game' by Alex Miller

Sophie Masson
Tuesday, 06 August 2019

Alex Miller’s third novel treads some complex and difficult territory, staking out the past, memory, and the creation of self. It is also an incursion into the shadowy borderlands that lie between history and fiction, and the way in which, for every individual, the past has a different face ...

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This amazing novel comes in two parts, a 431-page prose Saga, and a 123 page verse Ballad. The whole is held together by a Narrator, who tells the Saga as a gloss on the Ballad, which he found in an old bike shed in an abandoned mailbag. The ballad was written by Orion the Poet, a young man called Timothy Papadirnitriou ...

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Nicolas Jose reviews 'Jack Maggs' by Peter Carey

Nicholas Jose
Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Peter Carey has constructed a labyrinth. Let me gropingly try to lead you through it. The year is 1837. A convict, transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life, returns to London intent on finding the boy who years before did him a kindness. The boy, Henry Phipps, has grown up a gentleman ...

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Peter Craven reviews 'Eucalyptus: A novel' by Murray Bail

Peter Craven
Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Murray Bail has passed muster as an important Australian novelist for quite a while now.  His 1980 novel Homesickness, with its sustained parodic conceit of Australian tourists forever entering the prefab theme park, rather than its ‘real’ original, was an early national venture into what might have been postmodernism. Holden's Performance, a good time later ...

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In 2013, Matthew Condon published Three Crooked Kings, the first in his true crime series delving into the murky, sordid, and often brutal world of police corruption in Queensland.  That year, he wrote in Australian Book Review that, after finishing his trilogy,  he planned to ‘swan dive into the infinitely more comfortable genre of fiction’ ...

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Ellen van Neerven reviews The Yield by Tara June Winch

Ellen van Neerven
Monday, 29 July 2019

Wiradjuri writer Tara June Winch is not afraid to play with the form and shape of fiction. Her dazzling début, Swallow the Air (2006), is a short novel in vignettes that moves quickly through striking images and poetic prose ...

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