Fiction

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What does it mean to live in a place but never to fully belong to it? How does our capacity for intimacy alter when we are in exile? How do we forge an identity among haphazard collisions of cultures and histories? These are the questions that Melanie Cheng ...

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Chris Flynn reviews four new crime novels

Chris Flynn
Sunday, 21 April 2019

The plethora of crime stories is such that, in order to succeed, they must either follow a well-trodden narrative path and do so extremely well, or run with a high concept and hope for the best. Having the word ‘girl’ in the title doesn’t hurt. Readers are familiar with genre tropes ...

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Siri Hustvedt’s latest novel, Memories of the Future, weaves together three distinct threads. The overarching narrative, set in the recent past, unfolds contemporaneously with the book’s composition. It consists of the reflections of a writer with the mysterious initials SH ...

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In Chris Womersley’s collection of short fiction, A Lovely and Terrible Thing, a man is caught in a fugue moment. Just after unexpectedly discharging a gun into the body of a stranger, he gazes at his reflection in a darkened window pane: ‘I saw someone outside looking in, before realising it was, in fact, my own reflection ...

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Care and compassion, a fair go, freedom, honesty, trustworthiness, respect, and tolerance. These were the nine ‘Australian values’ that former Liberal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson demanded be taught in schools, especially Islamic schools, across the nation in 2005. How? ...

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Paul Giles reviews 'Machines Like Me' by Ian McEwan

Paul Giles
Sunday, 21 April 2019

Ian McEwan’s new novel imagines an alternative history of England in the 1980s, one in which Argentina won the Falklands War and Margaret Thatcher was subsequently trounced at the polls. It also projects an alternative narrative of scientific progress, one in which the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing did not die in 1954 ...

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Jacinta Mulders reviews The Hollow Bones by Leah Kaminsky

Jacinta Mulders
Monday, 25 March 2019

Leah Kaminsky’s novel The Hollow Bones focuses on Ernst Schäfer, a German who was sent to Tibet by Himmler in the late 1930s, outwardly to collect plant and animal specimens; secretly to ‘search for the origins of the Aryan race’. Himmler’s abhorrent obsessions are not focused on ...

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Jane Rawson reviews The Glad Shout by Alice Robinson

Jane Rawson
Monday, 25 March 2019

Unusually for literary fiction, Alice Robinson’s The Glad Shout opens right in the thick of the action: Jostled and soaked, copping an elbow to her ribs, smelling wet wool and sweat and the stony creek scent of damp concrete, Isobel grips Shaun’s cold fingers and clamps Matilda to her hip, terrified of losing them in the roiling crowd ...

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At the front of Miriam Sved’s A Universe of Sufficient Size is a black-and-white photograph of a statue. The cloaked figure holding a pen (‘like a literary grim reaper’, reflects one character) is the statue of Anonymous in Budapest, a significant setting in the book. Its inclusion is a reminder that the novel draws on the story of ...

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Robin Gerster reviews The War Artist by Simon Cleary

Robin Gerster
Monday, 25 March 2019

It’s virtually axiomatic: ‘war can fuck you up’. This pithy observation, made by a veteran in The War Artist, Simon Cleary’s new novel about the travails of an Australian soldier during and after a tour of Afghanistan, goes to the heart of what we now understand about the impact of battle and its psychological aftershocks ...

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