Fiction

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Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Feet to the Stars' by Susan Midalia

Cassandra Atherton
Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Susan Midalia's Feet to the Stars references Sylvia Plath's poem 'You're', in which Plath addresses her unborn child: 'Clownlike, happiest on your hands, / Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled, / Gilled like a fish ...' This clever title foreshadows Midalia's exploration of children in the family dynamic and the use of intertextuality, which are integral to ...

Over the last year, Italian enigma Elena Ferrante has become one of the most passionately advocated literary sensations of our time. Enigma, because 'Elena Ferrante' is a pseudonym and no one other than her publisher knows her identity, Ferrante had published several novels before the Neapolitan series, but it is this cycle of four novels, culminating in The Sto ...

In an isolated hut in the countryside, a young woman wakes from a drug-induced sleep to discover that she is dressed in a nineteenth-century smock. She soon finds another young woman in the same condition, and both are forced to submit to the shaving of their heads. It is contemporary Australia: kookaburras cackle outside. Are they in a prison, or a religious cult, ...

Kazuo Ishiguro recently sparked off a literary row about whether 'serious' writers should dabble in fantasy when he insisted rather too strongly that he was not writing fantasy in his latest novel The Buried Giant (2015). All those giants and pixies, knights and d ...

Naama Amram reviews 'Leap' by Myfanwy Jones

Naama Grey-Smith
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Set in Melbourne’s cafés, under its bridges, behind its laundromats, and within its zoo, Leap is a contemporary Australian novel about love and loss. It entwines the narratives of Joe, whose guilt over the accidental death of his high-school girlfriend drives him to work dead-end jobs and train furiously in the art of Parkour, and Elise, a recently s ...

Rose Lucas reviews 'The Lost Swimmer' by Ann Turner

Rose Lucas
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Lost Swimmer is a novel full of movement, colour, and complex plot threads. Although this is her first novel, Ann Turner’s experience as a significant Australian film director and screenwriter has given her a tight grasp on the unfolding of narrative in sharply realise ...

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Relativity' by Antonia Hayes

Gretchen Shirm
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

It is not difficult to see why the publisher expects Relativity to find a wide readership; centred on Ethan its eccentric, physics-obsessed young protagonist, this is a touching portrayal of a fractured family.

Claire has always known her son is special, with his talent for numbers and precocious knowledge of astronomical facts. At school, his peers c ...

Susan Midalia reviews 'My Hearts Are Your Hearts' by Carmel Bird

Susan Midalia
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

In one of the reflective essays that complement her new collection of stories, My Hearts Are Your Hearts, Carmel Bird likens short story writing to the art of the conjuror who takes ‘coloured silk handkerchiefs, pull[s] them all in to make a ball, and then, with a flourish, open[s] them up as a full-blown rose’. This charming me ...

The Heart Goes Last is set in a not-so-distant future in which the economy of the United States has collapsed. In the wake of a major financial meltdown, those rich enough to flee have taken up residence in floating offshore tax havens, leaving the rest of the population to cope with a society ravaged by spiralling unemployment, drug addiction, and crime. The ...

Morag Fraser reviews 'The Secret Chord' by Geraldine Brooks

Morag Fraser
Thursday, 24 September 2015

Geraldine Brooks credits her son, Nathaniel, with sparking the idea and title for her latest novel. For his bar mitzvah, Nathaniel chose to play an arrangement for harp of Leonard Cohen’s famous ‘Hallelujah’. It begins with these lines: ‘Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord / That David played, and it pleased the Lord.’

Music is crucial to Bro ...