Fiction

Sign up to Book of the Week

James Ley reviews 'The Voyage' by Murray Bail

James Ley
Thursday, 27 September 2012

Murray Bail’s fiction has often been interpreted in light of its explicit rejection of a prevailing tradition of Australian realism that someone once described as ‘dun-coloured’. This rejection has manifested itself in his willingness to appropriate some of Australian literature’s hoariest tropes – the harsh beauty of the landscape, the issue of national i ...

Melinda Harvey reviews 'Questions of Travel' by Michelle de Kretser

Melinda Harvey
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

In Overland back in 2006, Ken Gelder singled out Michelle de Kretser’s first novel, The Rose Grower (1999). as evidence of a contemporary Australian literature in crisis. Its foreign and historical setting, horticultural fetish, focus on private manners and primped prose, he argued, flaunted a rarefied and élitist aesthetics that wanted nothing to d ...

Kate McFadyen reviews 'The Engagement' by Chloe Hooper

Kate McFadyen
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The first time The Engagement’s narrator, Liese Campbell, sees the family homestead owned by her lover, Alexander Colquhoun, she is struck by its imposing physical presence: ‘We turned a corner … The second storey came into view: eight upstairs windows and each chimney intricate as a small mausoleum.’ As she surveys the isolated Victorian mansion, wit ...

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Lola Bensky' by Lily Brett

Francesca Sasnaitis
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

It is no secret that Lily Brett has mined her past and her family history in her fiction. Her parents, like those of her current alter ego, Lola Bensky, were survivors of the Łódź ghetto and Auschwitz concentration camp; Lola, like the author, was born in a displaced persons’ camp before her family emigrated to Australia. Lola, a chubby baby, was possibly the o ...

Claudia Hyles reviews 'The Memory of Salt' by Alice Melike Ülgezer

Claudia Hyles
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Alice Melike Ülgezer’s début novel is both exotic and familiar: a story of journeys, physical and philosophical, of a family with its roots in Istanbul and Melbourne. The first of these is a short ferry crossing of the Bosporus taken by Ali, a young woman (or is she a young man? gender seems immaterial here) from Melbourne who is in Istanbul to visit her father ...

Sky Kirkham reviews 'The Midnight Promise' by Zane Lovitt

Sky Kirkham
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Midnight Promise, Zane Lovitt’s début novel, is billed not as a detective story, but as a detective’s story. It is a minor grammatical change that makes for a major shift in the focus of the tale. Here there is no major dramatic revelation – no car chase, forensic science, femme fatale. Instead, the reader is offered a character study of a m ...

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Black Mountain' by Venero Armanno

Jeffrey Poacher
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Venero Armanno’s latest novel begins implausibly. A young man is troubled by a recurring dream about a faceless, one-armed, blob-like creature being throttled by someone wearing a pale blue shirt. This troubled dreamer is Mark Alter (the unsubtle last name underlines one of the book’s central concerns), a university drop-out estranged from his parents and now le ...

Ed Wright reviews 'Chinaman' by Shehan Karunatilaka

Ed Wright
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

 Test cricket and the novel are two pinnacles of modern cultural achievement, long-haul enterprises of intricacy and complexity. Why, then, have the two rarely intersected? It is especially strange given that cricket has arguably had more books devoted to it than has any other sport. Literary-minded cricket lovers will rhapsodise over the prose style of C.L.R. ...

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'To the Highlands' by Jon Doust

Jay Daniel Thompson
Tuesday, 25 September 2012

In To the Highlands, the second instalment in a trilogy entitled ‘One Boy’s Journey to Man’, Jon Doust provides a gripping examination of racism and male sexuality in 1960s Australia.

In the novel’s opening pages, Jack Muir arrives on some unnamed ‘islands’ to take up a banking job. Muir is barely out of high school. His early days in his ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Burial' by Courtney Collins

Gillian Dooley
Tuesday, 25 September 2012

 In the cheeky biographical note on the press release for her first novel, The Burial, Courtney Collins expresses a wish that she might one day be ‘a “lady” poet’. If I had read that before reading the novel, I would have been slightly alarmed: with many notable exceptions, poets tend not to make good novelists. It is true that The Burial ...

Page 58 of 78