Fiction

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Helena Kadmos 'The Valley' by Steve Hawke

Helena Kadmos
Thursday, 01 November 2018

The discovery of human bones is an intriguing narrative opening that rarely disappoints and seems an adaptable vehicle for the Australian gothic and representations of the impacts of colonisation on people and country. Perhaps this is because the image of curved, white mineral shapes (and the hint of stories fossilised within) contrast equally vividly with sandy coastal plains, central red dust, bleak mountain scarps, and dense green forest. 

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Nicole Abadee reviews 'Unsheltered' by Barbara Kingsolver

Nicole Abadee
Thursday, 01 November 2018

American novelist Barbara Kingsolver is renowned for her ability to infuse her fiction with her politics, in particular a passionate concern for nature and the environment. Prodigal Summer, published in 2000, is a celebration of the relationship between humans and nature; Flight Behaviour, published in 2012, is about climate change. No surprise then that her latest novel, Unsheltered, is set during two periods of scientific upheaval – the 1870s and the present – in which humans are confronted by the undeniable evidence of their own limitations. ‘I wanted,’ Kingsolver said, ‘to look at a paradigm shift, at how people behave at these moments of history when all the rules they trusted to hold true suddenly don’t apply anymore.’

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Just one thing can shape your whole life’ is one line in a novel of four hundred and fifty pages, but it is telling in its application toward the characters of this brilliant début novel. Set on the Hawkesbury River in 1806, the cast of characters is large and yet we find each of them living with the consequences ...

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Alice Whitmore reviews 'Melodrome' by Marcelo Cohen

Alice Whitmore
Friday, 26 October 2018

‘I didn’t realise I was becoming untranslatable,’ Marcelo Cohen confessed after the publication of his eleventh novel, in an interview with Argentine newspaper Clarín. ‘And when I did realise, it was already too late.’ Given that Cohen is himself a renowned translator – the list of authors he has translated into Spanish ...

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Alice Nelson reviews 'Matryoshka' by Katherine Johnson

Alice Nelson
Thursday, 25 October 2018

Half a century ago, the Palestinian writer Edward Said described the state of exile as ‘the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home’. Its essential sadness, he believed, was not surmountable. The crippling sorrows of exile and estrangement ...

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Anthony Lynch reviews 'When I Saw the Animal' by Bernard Cohen

Anthony Lynch
Thursday, 25 October 2018

As a boy, I watched with fascination an early sci-fi horror film, The Blob. After a meteorite lands in Pennsylvania, a small, gelatinous blob emerges from the crater. Starting with an inquisitive old man who probes this runaway black pudding with his walking stick, the blob proceeds to consume, literally, everything ...

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Susan Wyndham reviews 'Shell' by Kristina Olsson

Susan Wyndham
Thursday, 25 October 2018

The story of the Sydney Opera House is usually told as the heroic tragedy of its Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, who won the design competition for his breathtaking cluster of white sails but resigned before its completion over conflict about practicalities, costs, and government interference ...

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Brenda Niall reviews 'Upstate' by James Wood

Brenda Niall
Thursday, 25 October 2018

Forget the author – it’s the book that matters. That’s sound advice, but there are times when it is hard to follow. James Wood’s Upstate is a testing case. A quietly reflective little novel, elegantly written, with four main characters and a minimal plot, Upstate doesn’t look like a literary time bomb ...

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Margaret Robson Kett reviews four recent Young Adults novels

Margaret Robson Kett
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
Friendship can be a powerful force for change in a young adult’s life. These four new books explore the full gamut of the unlikely, advantageous, and destructive consequences of relationships. ... (read more)

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'The Yellow House' by Emily O’Grady

Jay Daniel Thompson
Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Cub lives next door to the yellow house. The girl also lives in the shadow of her grandfather, Les, who once owned that property, and who died years ago, after doing ‘ugly things’ to women. Indeed, Les’s crimes seem to cast a pall over Cub’s entire family. This is a family where warmth ...

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