Fiction

Early on in this book, the fictional Lale Sokolov, based on the real man of that name who survived Auschwitz and its horrors to eventually live in suburban Melbourne, has his arm tattooed. Aghast, he laments, ‘How can someone do this to another human being?’ He wonders if, ‘for the rest ...

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Brenda Niall reviews 'The Shepherd’s Hut' by Tim Winton

Brenda Niall
Thursday, 22 February 2018

There are no sheep grazing anywhere near the shepherd’s hut of Tim Winton’s new novel. A few wild goats in the desolate landscape, some broken machinery: that’s all. The narrator, fifteen-year-old Jaxie Clackton, prime suspect for killing his abusive father, is on the run from the police. His scanty food supplies have ...

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'The Lebs' by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Jay Daniel Thompson
Thursday, 22 February 2018

Bani Adam wants to be a ‘chivalrous poet’ or a great writer. These aspirations make the Lebanese-Australian teenager feel like an outsider at the testosterone-fuelled, anti-intellectual high school that he attends. Until he finishes school, Bani bides his time with a group of mostly Muslim and Lebanese young men. ‘The Lebs’ ...

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It is a pleasure to read a collection of short fiction in which every story is a work of elegant and meticulous craft. Catherine Cole has brought her significant observational and lyrical skills as a poet, novelist, and memoirist to bear on these stories, and the narratives unfold with cool, restrained style. However, this ...

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Anna MacDonald reviews 'Her' by Garry Disher

Anna MacDonald
Friday, 22 December 2017

In this dark historical novel, Garry Disher imagines a world in which small girls are sold by their desperate families and enslaved to men such as the brutal ‘scrap man’ – ‘a schemer, a plotter, a trickster’ in whom ‘nothing ... rang true except rage and self-pity’ and who profits from the labour of womenfolk known as Wife, Big Girl ...

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Lisa Bennett reviews 'The Art of Navigation' by Rose Michael

Lisa Bennett
Thursday, 21 December 2017

Conceptually, The Art of Navigation is as intriguing as it is ambitious. The narrative is part near-future time travel, part historical drama, part nostalgic Australian Gothic – and all slipstream fiction. The novel braids, unbraids, and rebraids three main threads of time and place: suburban Melbourne in 1987; the royal courts ...

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Given that the unnamed narrator–protagonist of Mariana Dimópulos’s All My Goodbyes (Cada despedida) has difficulty putting together and understanding her own fractured, nomadic life, it is perhaps not surprising that we readers have to call on all of our faculties to reconstruct her narrative – but it is well worth the effort ...

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In her Introduction to The Best Australian Stories 2017, Maxine Beneba Clarke describes how the best short fiction leaves readers with ‘a haunting: a deep shifting of self, precipitated by impossibly few words’. Many of the stories here achieve this, inserting an image or idea into the reader’s mind and leaving it there to worry ...

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Lisa Gorton reviews 'Dunbar' by Edward St Aubyn

Lisa Gorton
Wednesday, 20 December 2017

‘Leir the sonne of Baldud, was admitted ruler over the Britaines, in the year of the world 3105’ (Holinshed’s Chronicles, 1577). Shakespeare’s play King Lear is set in the long ago, the age of ballads and folktales. ‘Amongst those things that nature gave ...’ goes the ballad ...

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Brenda Niall reviews 'Mrs Osmond' by John Banville

Brenda Niall
Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The last page of Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady (1881) leaves its heroine, Isabel Osmond, with an ambiguous choice. To go back into the cage of her wretched marriage might be an exercise of will for duty’s sake, or an evasion, based on fear. Readers have been disputing Isabel’s motives ever since her creator so ...

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