Fiction

Dennis Altman reviews 'My Beautiful Enemy'

Dennis Altman
26 May 2013

During World War II the Australian government constructed a number of internment camps for ‘enemy aliens’, including ones at Tatura (Rushworth) in Victoria, Hay and Cowra in New South Wales, Loveday in South Australia, and Harvey in Western Australia. Most of those interned were German nationals, and the most famous stories are those connected with Jewish refuge ... More

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Beloved'

Gillian Dooley
26 May 2013

God gave me polio?’ Taken aback by her grandmother’s bland insistence on unquestioning submission to divine will, the six-year-old child in Annah Faulkner’s novel The Beloved has already started questioning the articles of faith and the assumptions of the adults in her world, in that penetrating way some children h ... More

Kerryn Goldsworthy on 'Big Brother' by Lionel Shriver

Kerryn Goldsworthy
26 May 2013

The novel for which Lionel Shriver is best known, We Need to Talk about Kevin (2003), generated endless discussion across the spectrum of readers, from buzzing suburban home-based reading groups to the pages of the Guardian and the New York Times. Much of this discussion circled around the question of the first-person narrator and mother, ... More

Angela E. Andrewes reviews 'We Are Not The Same Anymore'

Angela E. Andrewes
28 April 2013

Finishing Chris Somerville’s début story collection, We Are Not the Same Anymore, I felt a sense of alienation and ennui. Somerville writes with a stylistic sparseness that is deceptively simple but that repays rereading. Passages of awkwardness and deep introspection are punctuated by moments of humour, warmth, and vulnerability. Embedded within this star ... More

Milly Main reviews 'Harmless'

Milly Main
28 April 2013

A drunken woman stumbles into a party where people are gathered around a bonfire, determined to give the baby girl under her jacket to its father. When he refuses, she seizes the baby by the foot and throws it into the air above the fire. The child is Amanda and this is her start to a life that will be informed by criminals, harmed people – the crushed, flawed, ab ... More

Bronwyn Lea reviews 'Burial Rites'

Bronwyn Lea
28 April 2013

A novel that can be summarised in a single, captivating sentence is a publisher’s dream. Not that ease of marketing is a reliable measure of excellence. Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927), for instance – which could be described as ‘the story of a mother who dies before taking her son to visit a lighthouse, and later a woman completes a paintin ... More

Wendy Were reviews 'Steeplechase'

Wendy Were
28 April 2013

‘My sister Emily likes ponies and show jumping and arenas.’ Steeplechase, Krissy Kneen’s fourth book, opens innocently enough with this unremarkable announcement of a common girlhood infatuation. Before the first paragraph ends, this innocent observation is tempered by the obviously unwholesome quality that underpins the imaginative equine play of two y ... More

Jan McGuinness reviews 'The Memory Trap'

Jan McGuinness
28 April 2013

Andrea Goldsmith, in her seventh novel, plunges once more into a world of characters whose ideas and relationships swirl and churn around a psychological trigger. This time it is memory in all its errant, bewitching manifestations. Memory plays tricks as the old adage goes, and for the novel’s main characters it is the trick of emersion in an idealised but rupture ... More

Tony Birch reviews 'Mullumbimby'

Tony Birch
28 April 2013

Mullumbimby is a humorous, heartfelt, occasionally abrasive and brave work by a writer with an acute ear for language, an eye for subtle beauty, and a nose honed to sniff bullshit at a thousand paces. A sculptural work, produced by the author and photographed for the cover of the novel, is a bird’s nest, crafted from twigs, various grasse ... More

Patrick Allington reviews 'The Railwayman’s Wife'

Patrick Allington
26 April 2013

As a woman and her daughter prepare to attend a memorial service for their husband and father, a railwayman, the girl offers the woman her kaleidoscope: ‘You could borrow this, Mum [...] You said it was good for seeing things differently.’ It is a resonant moment, the promise of a magical but fleeting distortion of reality both lovely and desperately sad. The sc ... More

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