Fiction

Sign up to Book of the Week

The most charismatic of the many monsters in Elizabeth Bryer’s début novel is the conceptual artist Maddison Worthington, who commands attention with her lipstick of ‘Mephistophelian red’ and her perfume of ‘white woods, musk and heliotrope’. From the solitude of a labyrinthine mansion ...

... (read more)

Naama Grey-Smith reviews 'Wolfe Island' by Lucy Treloar

Naama Grey-Smith
Tuesday, 27 August 2019

With Wolfe Island, Lucy Treloar joins a growing number of novelists whose fiction is marked by anthropogenic catastrophe. Her latest offering confronts two urgent global crises: the climate emergency, and the plight of refugees. Treloar reveals startling connections between the two through the shared thread of displacement in ...

... (read more)

'The Point-Blank Murder'

Sonja Dechian
Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The sunset is orange, the sky scattered with clouds. We’re eating pumpkin and lentil soup out of bowls from home. I didn’t think it was necessary to bring them, the cupboards here are well stocked, but Irene insisted. She says they’re the perfect size. Also, she read in her online mother’s group that the glaze on old crockery often contains lead ...

... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'The Returns' by Philip Salom

Brenda Walker
Tuesday, 27 August 2019

A bookseller, Trevor, sits in his shop in Melbourne making conversation with his customers: an exasperating mixture of confessional, hesitant, deranged, and disruptive members of the public. One man stalks him, armed with an outrageous personal demand; another tries to apologise for assaulting him. The apology is almost as unnerving as the attack ...

... (read more)

The inciting incident in Josephine Rowe’s short story ‘Glisk’ (winner of the 2016 Jolley Prize) unpacks in an instant. A dog emerges from the scrub and a ute veers into oncoming traffic. A sedan carrying a mother and two kids swerves into the safety barrier, corroded by the salt air, and disappears over a sandstone bluff ...

... (read more)

Alison Whittaker reviews 'The Old Lie' by Claire G. Coleman

Alison Whittaker
Monday, 26 August 2019

In The Old Lie, Claire G. Coleman has given herself a right of reply to her award-winning début novel, Terra Nullius (2007). Here, she strips away some of the racial ambiguity of the human–alien invasion allegory of that novel and leaves in its place a meaty analysis of colonisation and imperialism ...

... (read more)

Joy Hooten reviews 'Spirit Wrestlers' by Thomas Shapcott

Joy Hooton
Thursday, 22 August 2019

Spirit Wrestlers takes its title from ‘Doukhobors’, the name adopted by a strict religious sect that originated in Russia and that was harshly repressed both by the tsarist state and the church. The Society of Friends, attracted by the Doukhobors’ pacifist beliefs and by their prayer meetings, which reject liturgy ...

... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Brother Fish' by Bryce Courtenay

Gillian Dooley
Thursday, 22 August 2019

What a phenomenon Bryce Courtenay is. In a world where we are constantly being told that books are on the way out, he sells them by the barrow-load. They’re big books, too. This one weighs 1.2 kilograms and is seven centimetres thick. It’s the kind of book that makes a reviewer wish she was paid ...

... (read more)

In reviewing the first half of Simon Leys’s new book, The Wreck of the Batavia, I’m tempted to regurgitate my review from these pages (ABR, June–July 2002) of Mike Dash’s history of the Batavia shipwreck Batavia’s Graveyard (2002) – especially since Leys also holds that book in high regard, rendering all other histories, his own included ...

... (read more)

Vietnam, of all the foreign conflicts in which Australians have been involved, most outgrew and out lived its military dimension. The ghosts of what Christopher J. Koch in this new novel calls ‘that long and bitter saga’ continue to haunt the lives (and the politics) of the generations of men and women who lived through it ...

... (read more)