Fiction

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Claudia Hyles reviews 'Flood of Fire' by Amitav Ghosh

Claudia Hyles
Friday, 27 November 2015

Amitav Ghosh has spent more than ten years writing the Ibis trilogy, his fictional account of the turbulent years leading to the First Opium War of 1839–42. Flood of Fire follows Sea of Poppies (2008) and River of Smoke (2011). It is unnecessary to have read the earlier books, though reuniting with some of the characters is enjo ...

Georgia Blain reviews 'Six Bedrooms' by Tegan Bennett Daylight

Georgia Blain
Thursday, 26 November 2015

The best short stories are like a glimpse into a room as you rush past in a train – the messy kitchen table, an empty handbag, the perfectly made bed – a snapshot with enough detail to suggest so much more.

In Six Bedrooms, Tegan Bennett Daylight takes us into the world of growing up, of desire and shame, and of repeatedly making mistakes. She k ...

Luke Horton reviews 'Ghost River' by Tony Birch

Luke Horton
Wednesday, 25 November 2015

With Ghost River, Tony Birch returns to a world he has delineated over many short stories and in his first novel, the Miles Franklin-shortlisted Blood (2011): the world of adolescents living on the margins. Invariably in trouble and in unstable family envi ...

It is gratifying to witness the renewal of interest in Elizabeth Harrower's fiction. Last year, ...

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Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Women's Pages' by Debra Adelaide

Susan Sheridan
Wednesday, 28 October 2015

In this beautifully crafted novel, two parallel stories merge. Chapters alternate between Ellis, a young woman living in Sydney in the 1960s, and Dove, a thirty-eight-year-old woman in the present day. As the novel begins, Ellis is contemplating leaving her husband and taking her baby son with her; Dove is mourning the death of her adoptive mother – and writing a ...

Kevin Rabalais reviews 'Scorper' by Rob Magnuson Smith

Kevin Rabalais
Wednesday, 28 October 2015

For the most part, we move among books with ease, passing from one writer's prose to another without having to adjust the frequency of our inner ear. We detect shifts in style and sensibility, sure, but as readers we open ourselves to such a wide harmonic range that, should multiple books arrive on our lap with the authors' names deleted, we could segue from page to ...

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 ...