Fiction

‘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 ...

Maya Linden reviews 'Alex as Well' by Alyssa Brugman

Maya Linden
Friday, 08 March 2013

Alyssa Brugman’s Alex as Well makes us question why we read. Is it something we do to escape reality, or are we drawn to other realms that may contain deeply unsettling experiences very different from our own?

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Estelle Tang reviews 'Elsewhere in Success' by Iris Lavell

Estelle Tang
Thursday, 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 ...

The second in the Ship Kings series has a cinematic feel and shares the first-rate quality of the first book. Set in a fantasy world where island folk live in unsettled peace under the ruling mariner class, it continues the tale of Dow Amber as he sets off on a sailing adventure aboard the battleship Chloe. He and the unusual scapegoat girl Ignella are the onl ...

Thuy On reviews 'Twitcher' by Cherise Saywell

Thuy On
Thursday, 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 ...

Scott Macleod reviews 'The Holiday Murders' by Robert Gott

Scott Macleod
Wednesday, 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 ...

Phil Brown reviews 'Belomor' by Nicolas Rothwell

Phil Brown
Monday, 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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Alison Broinowski on Asian Australian fiction in the Asian Century

Alison Broinowski
Thursday, 31 January 2013

White Papers are falling on Australia like confetti. We had two on foreign affairs and one on terrorism in the seven years to 2004; the third one on defence in four years will appear this year, and in October 2012 Ken Henry delivered Australia in the Asian Century. Defence White Papers are perennially concerned with Australia’s need for the material and mon ...

Simon Collinson reviews 'The Toe Tag Quintet' by Matthew Condon

Simon Collinson
Thursday, 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 ...

As I read the early pages of Anthony Macris’s Great Western Highway, I began to wonder if the whole novel might consist of a single central character walking along a city road (for the record, it doesn’t). I couldn’t decide whether I found such a prospect exciting or deflating. As I continued reading, and as Great Western Highway took flight from ...

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