Fiction

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Louise Swinn reviews 'A Fraction of the Whole' by Steve Toltz

Louise Swinn
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

A Fraction of the Whole is Sydney author Steve Toltz’s sprawling début. Wearing its misanthropic heart uproariously on its sleeve, Fraction is a long father-and-son tale that traverses continents and nods to countless literary forebears on its way.

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James Ley reviews 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas

James Ley
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

In early 2018, Christos Tsiolkas published a long essay as part of a series commissioned by the Sydney branch of PEN, an organisation dedicated to freedom of expression. ‘Tolerance’, which appeared in Tolerance, Prejudice and Fear (2008), is an interesting document, not least for the way it highlights how compelling yet exasperating a writer Tsiolkas can be.

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Nicole Abadee reviews 'Bruny' by Heather Rose

Nicole Abadee
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Tasmanian writer Heather Rose’s fifth adult novel, Bruny, about a joint venture between the Chinese, Australian, and Tasmanian governments, is well timed, given current concerns about the covert infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party into Australia’s universities and given Federal MP Andrew Hastie’s recent warning that Australia should approach i ...

Fiona Wright reviews 'The Breeding Season' by Amanda Niehaus

Fiona Wright
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Breeding Season is a novel that grapples with big ideas: the connections between death; grief, mortality and the bodily experience of them; how the male gaze preconditions how women (and female animals) are portrayed and described in science and art. It is an ambitious book, and the ideas that drive it are one of its main pleasures, even if they sometim ...

Chris Flynn reviews 'Hollow Earth' by John Kinsella

Chris Flynn
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Astronomer Edmond Halley (also known as Edmund, debate still rages over which spelling he preferred) may be best known for the comet that passes through our solar system once every seventy-five to seventy-six years (next sighting due in 2061, set a reminder in your iCal), but in 1692 he proposed an intriguing theory: that the Earth was hollow.

Halley suggest ...

Alice Nelson reviews 'Act of Grace' by Anna Krien

Alice Nelson
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

A young Aboriginal girl wears an abaya because she wants to see how it feels to inhabit someone else’s experience, someone else’s history. An exiled Iraqi musician plays a piano in a shopping centre in suburban Melbourne. Native Americans protesting the construction of a pipeline on their traditional lands are shot at with water cannons and rubber bullets. Count ...

James Ley reviews 'The Death of Jesus' by J.M. Coetzee

James Ley
Wednesday, 25 September 2019
It is commonly accepted that the modern European novel begins with Don Quixote. Lionel Trilling went so far as to claim that the entire history of the modern novel could be interpreted as variations on themes set out in Cervantes’s great originating work. And the quality that is usually taken to mark Don Quixote as ... ... (read more)

Crusader Hillis reviews 'The Pillars' by Peter Polites

Crusader Hillis
Sunday, 08 September 2019

The 2019 federal election result confirmed that housing prices, upward mobility, tax cuts, and limited immigration are powerful motivators for Australian voters. Peter Polites’s second novel, The Pillars, with its themes of social and material advancement in Sydney’s western suburbs, captures this spirit of the time perfectly ...

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Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Fortune' by Lenny Bartulin

Francesca Sasnaitis
Tuesday, 03 September 2019

Fortune begins with Napoleon’s triumphant entry into Berlin on 27 October 1806. Does it matter whether the popular image of the emperor astride a magnificent white stallion is an embellishment? ‘Time sullies every truth,’ Lenny Bartulin tells us. History is as much a fiction as this tale of derring-do and dire misfortune  ...

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Andrew McGahan’s final book, The Rich Man’s House, opens with an apology. ‘It’s a finished novel – I wouldn’t be letting it out into the world if it wasn’t – but I can’t deny that my abrupt decline in health has forced the publishers and I to hurry the rewriting and editing process extremely, and that this is not quite the book it would have been had cancer not intervened … 

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