Fiction

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Wimmera' by Mark Brandi

Jay Daniel Thompson
Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The tagline of Wimmera is ‘Small town. Big secret’. Mark Brandi’s first novel does indeed feature a secret (and a grim one, at that), but it also offers a disturbing insight into Australian masculinity. The book opens in the country circa 1989. Ben and Fab are primary school students who, both misfits, while away the hours catching ...

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Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Rain Birds' by Harriet McKnight

Gretchen Shirm
Wednesday, 27 September 2017

In Harriet McKnight’s début novel, a story about early onset dementia is offset by a second conservation-focused narrative involving the glossy black cockatoo. This braided structure immediately creates anticipation about where and how the two stories will meet. Pina is the primary carer for her husband, Alan, whose illness ...

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Nicole Abadee reviews 'Home Fire' by Kamila Shamsie

Nicole Abadee
Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Sophocles might not have foreseen when he wrote his tragedy Antigone in 441 BCE that the issues he explored would remain topical in 2017. In the play, Polynices, Antigone’s brother, has died whilst attacking Thebes, his own city, in a bid for the crown. Creon, king of Thebes, has ordered that Polynices’s body be left unburied ...

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The many gaps in the verifiable history of Jeanne d’Arc’s early years in rural France, as well as her improbable rise to prominence and martyrdom, have left room for a considerable amount of speculation and projection over the centuries. There is no shortage of fictional or historical accounts of her life, or ways of characterising ...

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Beejay Silcox reviews 'The Life to Come' by Michelle de Kretser

Beejay Silcox
Friday, 22 September 2017

Humans are narrative creatures. We tell stories to make sense of ourselves, but our stories – be they historical, political, fictional, or personal – shape us as much as we shape them. In the service of narrative expediency, we often sacrifice nuance. We turn chance to prophecy, and accidents into choices. We justify and excuse ourselves. We anoint heroes and vi ...

Sonia Nair reviews 'The Hope Fault' by Tracy Farr

Sonia Nair
Friday, 25 August 2017

The minutiae and messiness of family life as it comes together and unravels time and time again are delicately rendered in Tracy Farr’s second novel, The Hope Fault. The unrelenting rain that forms the lugubrious backdrop for much of the novel conjures up the same rich, atmospheric setting of the late Georgia Blain’s

Lucien Gracq, the hero of Brian Castro’s verse novel Blindness and Rage, wishes to be a writer, though he has written only love letters to women, which achieved tragicomic results, or none at all. When Gracq retires from his job as a town planner in Adelaide, it seems he will have the time and freedom to write the epic he has dreamed of, but he is diagnos ...

Johanna Leggatt reviews 'Australia Day' by Melanie Cheng

Johanna Leggatt
Friday, 25 August 2017

The characters in Melanie Cheng’s collection of short stories are all outsiders or misfits in some way. Some feel conspicuously out of place, such as the Lebanese immigrant Maha, in ‘Toy Town’, who is struggling with suburban Australian life, or the Chinese medical student Stanley, who is visiting the family farm of a friend in the titular story. Stanley freez ...

Josephine Taylor reviews 'The Gulf' by Anna Spargo-Ryan

Josephine Taylor
Friday, 25 August 2017

Shortly after her son, Luke, was murdered by his father, Rosie Batty spoke of the non-discriminatory nature of family violence: ‘No matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are. It can happen to anyone, and everyone.’ If Batty’s is an example of the less easily imagined site of domestic violence, Anna Spargo-Ryan’s second novel, The Gulf, ...

Shannon Burns reviews 'The Town' by Shaun Prescott

Shannon Burns
Friday, 25 August 2017

Shaun Prescott’s début novel shares obvious conceptual territory with the fiction of Franz Kafka and Gerald Murnane, both of whom are mentioned in its promotional material ...

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