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Milly Main reviews 'What Was Left'

Milly Main
27 September 2013

Our instinctual reaction to parents who leave their children is one of suspicion. ‘Child abandonment’ elicits such images as a swaddled foundling in the woods, a parent in a train station losing hold of her child’s hand and disappearing into the crowd, or an anonymous baby hatch in a hospital. The presumption is that a mother (fathers are usually spared ...

Don Anderson reviews 'The Following'

Don Anderson
27 September 2013

Towards the end of Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift (1975), at the poet Von Humboldt Fleisher’s funeral on an April day in Chicago, Menasha Klinger, one of three mourners, points to a spring flower and asks Charlie Citrine, the novel’s narrator, to identify it. ‘Search me,’ Citrine replies, ‘I’m a city boy myself. They must be crocuses.’ ...

Brian Matthews reviews 'Coal Creek'

Brian Matthews
26 September 2013

The writing of a novel, Alex Miller has said, ‘is a kind of journey of the imagination in which there’s the liberty to dream your own dream … There’s always got to be a model located somewhere in fact and reality … But some of your best characters are what you think of as being purely made up, just characters that needed to be there.’


The past two decades have seen Richard Flanagan stride confidently into the first rank of Australian writers. His novels are notable for their historical reach, the boldness of their conception, and their willingness to tackle big subjects. They have won him many admirers. But they have also tended to divide opinion, often quite sharply, and this would seem to ...

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'MaddAddam' by Margaret Atwood

Kerryn Goldsworthy
25 September 2013

Kerryn Goldsworthy admires Margaret Atwood’s depth of intellect as revealed in MaddAddam, the concluding sequel to Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood.

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The Swan Song of Doctor Malloy, a novel about addiction, compulsion, and recovery, is set within a fast-moving thriller. Traversing the worlds of health research, drug cartels, world politics, and corporations, it is a conspiracy novel that manages to stay just within the realms of credibility due to the specialist knowledge the author brings t ...

Cass Lehman keeps to herself – her mother and grandmother tell other residents of sleepy Jewel Bay that she is agoraphobic. Her real reason for staying in her house for the past nine years is that she has a terrifying kind of ‘retrocognition’: if Cass passes over a place where someone has died, she experiences their death. And death, as it turns out, is ...

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Holy Bible'

Francesca Sasnaitis
26 August 2013

Vanessa Russell grew up in a traditionalist Christian fellowship, the Christadelphians. She read the Bible from cover to cover every year, enjoyed a childhood filled with group activities, and only left when their oppressive restrictions caused her too much grief.


In Richard Beasley’s third novel, a friendship between three boys ends violently, and one of them is tragic-ally implicated. The lives of the young teenagers – Jake, Robbie, and Rory – are filled out with street football, driveway cricket, billycarts, fishing trips, slingshot target practice, and the comedy of flatulence. Their world is Rose Avenue durin ...

Amanda Curtin’s second novel, Elemental, tells the story of Margaret (Meggie) Duthie Tulloch. Meggie, an old woman who is dying of leukaemia, writes her life story in a series of notebooks intended to be a twenty-first birthday present to her granddaughter, Laura, who grew up clamouring for tales of ‘Fish Meggie, The Gutting Girl from the Top of the ...