Fiction

Despite the detailed excavatory art of the finest biographies, sometimes it takes the alchemical power of fiction to approximate the emotional geography of a single human and his or her milieu. Stephen Orr’s seventh novel, a compelling and at times distressing portrait of a twentieth-century Australian painter and his family ...

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This is a playful, intelligent, unsettling series of stories, fourteen of them, collected from publications going back a few decades from 1987 until 2012 as well as, presumably, unpublished work. Due in part to this long span, the book traces back and forth through time. There is even a Sydney pre-Opera House (just) ...

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James Bradley reviews 'Dyschronia' by Jennifer Mills

James Bradley
Thursday, 22 February 2018

Recent years have seen the literary novel begin to mutate, its boundaries and subject matter evolving in new and sometimes surprising directions as it attempts to accommodate the increasing weirdness of the world we inhabit ...

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Susan Lever reviews 'Off the Record' by Craig Sherborne

Susan Lever
Thursday, 22 February 2018

With a regular stream of vulgar tweets from President Trump and a tsunami of sexual harassment charges against prominent men, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the nasty side of masculine privilege in our current world. The narcissistic man who manipulates others to satisfy his sense of power has become a recognised ...

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'Mrs M’ is the second wife of Lachlan Macquarie, governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821. Luke Slattery explains in his Author’s Note the impulse behind his novel – Elizabeth Macquarie’s voice coming to him, romantically, in a dream. It was not quite unprompted. He had been visiting her home territory in ...

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Early on in this book, the fictional Lale Sokolov, based on the real man of that name who survived Auschwitz and its horrors to eventually live in suburban Melbourne, has his arm tattooed. Aghast, he laments, ‘How can someone do this to another human being?’ He wonders if, ‘for the rest ...

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Brenda Niall reviews 'The Shepherd’s Hut' by Tim Winton

Brenda Niall
Thursday, 22 February 2018

There are no sheep grazing anywhere near the shepherd’s hut of Tim Winton’s new novel. A few wild goats in the desolate landscape, some broken machinery: that’s all. The narrator, fifteen-year-old Jaxie Clackton, prime suspect for killing his abusive father, is on the run from the police. His scanty food supplies have ...

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'The Lebs' by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Jay Daniel Thompson
Thursday, 22 February 2018

Bani Adam wants to be a ‘chivalrous poet’ or a great writer. These aspirations make the Lebanese-Australian teenager feel like an outsider at the testosterone-fuelled, anti-intellectual high school that he attends. Until he finishes school, Bani bides his time with a group of mostly Muslim and Lebanese young men. ‘The Lebs’ ...

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It is a pleasure to read a collection of short fiction in which every story is a work of elegant and meticulous craft. Catherine Cole has brought her significant observational and lyrical skills as a poet, novelist, and memoirist to bear on these stories, and the narratives unfold with cool, restrained style. However, this ...

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Anna MacDonald reviews 'Her' by Garry Disher

Anna MacDonald
Friday, 22 December 2017

In this dark historical novel, Garry Disher imagines a world in which small girls are sold by their desperate families and enslaved to men such as the brutal ‘scrap man’ – ‘a schemer, a plotter, a trickster’ in whom ‘nothing ... rang true except rage and self-pity’ and who profits from the labour of womenfolk known as Wife, Big Girl ...

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