Fiction

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In reviewing the first half of Simon Leys’s new book, The Wreck of the Batavia, I’m tempted to regurgitate my review from these pages (ABR, June–July 2002) of Mike Dash’s history of the Batavia shipwreck Batavia’s Graveyard (2002) – especially since Leys also holds that book in high regard, rendering all other histories, his own included ...

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Vietnam, of all the foreign conflicts in which Australians have been involved, most outgrew and out lived its military dimension. The ghosts of what Christopher J. Koch in this new novel calls ‘that long and bitter saga’ continue to haunt the lives (and the politics) of the generations of men and women who lived through it ...

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If history is a graveyard of dead aristocracies, the novel is their eulogy. It is now, for instance, a critical commonplace to explain the young Proust’s entry into the closed world of France’s nobility as an occurrence made possible by its dissolution. Close to death, holding only vestigial power, the fag ends of the ancien régime lost the will or ...

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Lisa Gorton reviews 'Surrender' by Sonya Hartnett

Lisa Gorton
Friday, 16 August 2019

If you are regretting the passage of another summer and feeling nostalgic about the lost freedoms of youth, Sonya Hartnett’s latest novel, Surrender, may serve as a useful tonic. In Hartnett’s world, children possess little and control less, dependent as they are on adults and on their own capacity to manipulate, or charm ...

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Nicola Walker reviews 'Angel Puss' by Colleen McCullough

Nicola Walker
Friday, 16 August 2019

Ugh: today I realised Colleen McCullough’s latest book (her fifteenth), Angel Puss, which ABR sent to me several weeks ago, needs to be read, reviewed and dispatched by January 3. The dust jacket précis reveals that this novel is ‘exhilarating’ and ‘takes us back to 1960 and Sydney’s Kings Cross – and the story of a young woman determined to defy convention’ ...

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From at least the mid-1980s, it has been almost obligatory for Australian reviewers to bemoan the dearth of contemporary political novels in this country. In some ways, this is a predictable backlash against the flowering of postmodern fabulist novels of ‘beautiful lies’ (by such writers as Peter Carey, Elizabeth Jolley, and Brian Castro) in the past two decades ...

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Peter Craven reviews 'Corfu: A novel' by Robert Dessaix

Peter Craven
Wednesday, 14 August 2019

In the last however many years, we have seen the rise of a kind of faction in this country which has enabled people like Drusilla Modjeska and Brian Matthews to show what scintillation and what fireworks may follow when the life of the mind (with whatever attendant discursive zigzagging) allows itself to imagine a world ...

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Kate Middleton reviews 'Of A Boy' by Sonya Hartnett

Kate Middleton
Wednesday, 07 August 2019
At primary school we were shown a video warning children not to get into strangers’ cars. We were told to note the places with Safety House stickers on the way home. I remember wondering if, on being pursued, I’d be able to run all the way to the nearest one. Every so often, we heard about a kidnapping on the news, so we took these warnings seriously ... ... (read more)

You can’t escape the black square with the ominous slit: it’s about as familiar and inevitable in Australia as the icon for male or female. Ned’s iron mask now directs you to the National Library’s website of Australian images. There it is, black on red ochre, an importunate camera, staring back as we look through it ...

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Whether you track backwards in time from the hidden pestilence that is Chernobyl, or forwards from the vengeful terror of Stalin’s collectivisation and anti-nationalist policies, it is an inescapable fact that the Ukraine has had a bloody and awful century. In the winter of 1932-33 alone some four to five million Ukrainians died in ...

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