Fiction

William Heyward reviews 'The Drinker'

William Heyward
Monday, 27 May 2013

The Drinker, by Hans Fallada – first published in Germany in 1950, translated by Charlotte and A.L. Lloyd into English in 1952, unearthed for an Anglophone audience in 2009 by Melville House, and now published by Scribe – is the story of Erwin Sommer, who drinks himself, almost unaccountably, to death. It counts for everything, of course, to know that the ...

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Who We Were' by Lucy Neave

Judith Armstrong
Sunday, 26 May 2013

The nub of this first novel is a good one. Even those who weren’t alive in the early 1950s will have heard of Joseph McCarthy. Fired by the tensions of the Cold War but with scant regard for hard evidence, the US Republican senator made his reputation by accusing numerous individuals of communist sympathies, possible disloyalty, and/or treason. Intellectuals of ev ...

Dennis Altman reviews 'My Beautiful Enemy'

Dennis Altman
Sunday, 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 ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Beloved'

Gillian Dooley
Sunday, 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 ...

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Big Brother' by Lionel Shriver

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Sunday, 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, ...

Animals and friends are a perennial subject in children’s literature, and the junior novels and series books reviewed here highlight those interests. Most of these titles, however, are also notable because they are told with humour, even whilst exposing the anxieties of children.

Fog a Dox (Magabala Books, $19.95 pb, 111 pp, 97819 ...

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 ...

Milly Main reviews 'Harmless' by Julienne van Loon

Milly Main
Sunday, 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 ...

Bronwyn Lea reviews 'Burial Rites' by Hannah Kent

Bronwyn Lea
Sunday, 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 ...

Wendy Were reviews 'Steeplechase' by Krissy Kneen

Wendy Were
Sunday, 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 ...

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