Fiction

James Bradley reviews 'Preservation' by Jock Serong

James Bradley
Monday, 26 November 2018

On 15 May 1797 a fishing boat passing Wattamolla, in what is now Sydney’s Royal National Park, spotted three men on the beach. Rescued and returned to Sydney, the trio – tea merchant and supercargo William Clarke, sailor John Bennet, and Clarke’s lascar manservant, Srinivas – told an extraordinary story. After their ship, the Sydney Cove, was wrecke ...

Suzanne Falkiner reviews 'The Fragments' by Toni Jordan

Suzanne Falkiner
Monday, 26 November 2018

In the swampy heat of a Brisbane summer in 1986, a young bookshop assistant tries to solve a fifty-year-old mystery involving Inga Karlson, a legendary New York author who died in a warehouse fire in 1939. Caddie Walker, the bookseller, is idealistic enough to believe that books can change people’s lives ...

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In 2016 A.S. Patrić’s first novel, Black Rock, White City won the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Two years earlier (he told an interviewer) he couldn’t even get a rejection slip for it: not one of the big Australian publishers responded when he sent the manuscript. The independent company Transit Lounge took it on ...

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Helena Kadmos 'The Valley' by Steve Hawke

Helena Kadmos
Thursday, 01 November 2018

The discovery of human bones is an intriguing narrative opening that rarely disappoints and seems an adaptable vehicle for the Australian gothic and representations of the impacts of colonisation on people and country. Perhaps this is because the image of curved, white mineral shapes (and the hint of stories fossilised within) contrast equally vividly with sandy coastal plains, central red dust, bleak mountain scarps, and dense green forest. 

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Nicole Abadee reviews 'Unsheltered' by Barbara Kingsolver

Nicole Abadee
Thursday, 01 November 2018

American novelist Barbara Kingsolver is renowned for her ability to infuse her fiction with her politics, in particular a passionate concern for nature and the environment. Prodigal Summer, published in 2000, is a celebration of the relationship between humans and nature; Flight Behaviour, published in 2012, is about climate change. No surprise then that her latest novel, Unsheltered, is set during two periods of scientific upheaval – the 1870s and the present – in which humans are confronted by the undeniable evidence of their own limitations. ‘I wanted,’ Kingsolver said, ‘to look at a paradigm shift, at how people behave at these moments of history when all the rules they trusted to hold true suddenly don’t apply anymore.’

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Just one thing can shape your whole life’ is one line in a novel of four hundred and fifty pages, but it is telling in its application toward the characters of this brilliant début novel. Set on the Hawkesbury River in 1806, the cast of characters is large and yet we find each of them living with the consequences ...

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Alice Whitmore reviews 'Melodrome' by Marcelo Cohen

Alice Whitmore
Friday, 26 October 2018

‘I didn’t realise I was becoming untranslatable,’ Marcelo Cohen confessed after the publication of his eleventh novel, in an interview with Argentine newspaper Clarín. ‘And when I did realise, it was already too late.’ Given that Cohen is himself a renowned translator – the list of authors he has translated into Spanish ...

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Alice Nelson reviews 'Matryoshka' by Katherine Johnson

Alice Nelson
Thursday, 25 October 2018

Half a century ago, the Palestinian writer Edward Said described the state of exile as ‘the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home’. Its essential sadness, he believed, was not surmountable. The crippling sorrows of exile and estrangement ...

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Anthony Lynch reviews 'When I Saw the Animal' by Bernard Cohen

Anthony Lynch
Thursday, 25 October 2018

As a boy, I watched with fascination an early sci-fi horror film, The Blob. After a meteorite lands in Pennsylvania, a small, gelatinous blob emerges from the crater. Starting with an inquisitive old man who probes this runaway black pudding with his walking stick, the blob proceeds to consume, literally, everything ...

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Susan Wyndham reviews 'Shell' by Kristina Olsson

Susan Wyndham
Thursday, 25 October 2018

The story of the Sydney Opera House is usually told as the heroic tragedy of its Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, who won the design competition for his breathtaking cluster of white sails but resigned before its completion over conflict about practicalities, costs, and government interference ...

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