Fiction

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Chasing the Light: A Novel of Antarctica'

Judith Armstrong
26 March 2013

The 2012 centenary of the dramatic Scott–Amundsen race to reach the South Pole prompted several new non-fiction books on Antarctica. No fewer than five of them were reviewed in the December–January edition of London’s Literary Review, a welcome reminder of the superb Ferocious Summer (Profile Books, 2007) by Australian author Meredith Hooper, whi ... More

Denise O'Dea reviews 'The Secret Lives of Men'

Denise O'Dea
26 March 2013

In one of Georgia Blain’s subtle, beautifully paced stories, a young girl is given an IQ test. Believing it to be a game, she is outraged when her older brother crows about his results and she realises she has been evaluated. Later, as an adult, she can put her childhood indignation into words: ‘I thought it was just a matter of random chance. I should have been ... More

Patrick Allington reviews 'Konkretion'

Patrick Allington
25 March 2013

Whereas many twenty-first-century novels seem way too long, konkretion is a distilled, complex gem. It is a novella full of questions and questing, most of which riff from this observation made in the context of Germany’s militant Red Army Faction: ‘what triggers the conversion from resistance to terror, flick-knife or otherwise, the jump into illeg ... More

Don Anderson reviews 'A World of Other People'

Don Anderson
25 March 2013

Novels have been appearing in the last decade or so in which one or more of the characters are actual historical figures, often themselves writers, appearing in propria persona, not considerately disguised and renamed, as Horace Skimpole was in Bleak House, for example. Perhaps the most notorious instance in recent years is Virginia Woolf in Mich ... More

Morag Fraser on J.M. Coetzee's 'The Childhood of Jesus'

Morag Fraser
18 February 2013

‘What is chaos?’ asks the unnerving child at the centre of J.M. Coetzee’s new parable-novel, The Childhood of Jesus. ‘I told you the other day,’ replies the child’s guardian. ‘Chaos is when there is no order, no laws to hold on to. Chaos is just things whirling around.’

Louise Erdrich’s The Round House begins with ... More

Estelle Tang reviews 'Elsewhere in Success'

Estelle Tang
07 March 2013

Louisa and Harry are both haunted. Louisa’s ghost is Tom, a son who took his own life. Harry’s spectres are no less troubling for still being alive; a failed marriage and unknown daughter pluck at his mind, are ‘imprinted on him’. These baby boomers, portrayed in alternating third-person chapters, are poorly matched against contemporary societal challe ... More

Thuy On reviews 'Twitcher'

Thuy On
07 March 2013

When sixteen-year-old Kenno and his family are evicted from their coastal rental property, Kenno is unconcerned: he has a cunning plan that will give them enough money to purchase his dream home. The idea involves lodging a compensatory claim for an accident that happened years ago. But Kenno needs his older sister, Lou, to fill in the details. She has a welte ... More

Scott Macleod reviews 'The Holiday Murders'

Scott Macleod
06 March 2013

Robert Gott’s The Holiday Murders fittingly begins with steely-eyed detectives examining a gruesome crime scene on Christmas Eve, 1943. The bodies of a father and son are found broken and bloodied in the dead of night, the son nailed to the floor in a ‘savage parody’ of the Crucifixion. From the memorable opening sequence, Gott demonstrates an int ... More

Phil Brown reviews 'Belomor'

Phil Brown
04 March 2013

I am surprised this book doesn’t come in plain packaging. Its title was inspired, after all, by a cigarette – Belomorkanal, also known as Belomor, a Russian brand the author describes as ‘strong, mood-altering cigarettes’. This cigarette motif suggests the lost world of Europe, when the Iron Curtain still hung.

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Simon Collinson reviews 'The Toe Tag Quintet'

Simon Collinson
31 January 2013

Matthew Condon is a writer who confounds expectations. He followed his prize-winning epic novel The Trout Opera (2007) with Brisbane (2010), a meditative exploration of the city’s rich history. In The Toe Tag Quintet, he turns his hand to crime. This is not a novel but a series of novellas about a detective’s exploits following his retiremen ... More

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