Fiction

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The historical novel has always been characterised by a formative tension – the demands of history versus the demands of story. The author is caught between relegating the past to a prettified background, or the characters to merely personified social forces. Michelle Aung Thin’s début novel tends more towards the former than the latter, illustrating both the dangers and the pleasure to be ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Foal's Bread' by Gillian Mears

Gillian Dooley
Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Gillian Mears has been to death’s door and back. Her wonderful essay ‘Alive in Ant and Bee’ (2007) recounts the journey and the exquisite pleasures of her life as a survivor. Writing has taken a back seat, understandably, over the past decade or so. There has been a short story collection, A Map of the Gardens (2002), but a novel from Mears is quite an event, sixteen years after ...

Here is a cliché to start your day: superhuman feats of strength. You find them in disaster stories and war epics, where desperate, adrenalised men push beyond the limits of human ability. Rescuers lift impossibly heavy rubble off earthquake victims; soldiers carry wounded comrades miles to safety. Such feats crop up in more imaginative forms in comic books, where the need to fight cr ...

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'The Magic of It' by Michael Wilding

Jeffrey Poacher
Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Declarations of loathing for the other members of one’s species tend to be tedious in reality but hilarious in fiction. The characters in Michael Wilding’s latest novel repeatedly prove this point with their mock-serious diatribes against, among others, the habitués of Sydney coffee shops (‘black-clad, metal-pierced creatures’), the patrons of English pubs (‘maggots … a rabble’), ...

Don Anderson reviews 'Hergesheimer Hangs In' by Morris Lurie

Don Anderson
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
‘A writer is writing even when he’s not writing, maybe even more then, even if he never writes again.
Got it?
Class dismissed.’
(Morris Lurie, ‘On Not Writing’, in Hergesheimer Hangs In)

In Wild & Woolley: A Publishing Memoir (2011), Michael Wilding recalls: ‘Morris Lurie sent us a collect ...

Romy Ash reviews 'Cargo' by Jessica Au

Romy Ash
Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Jessica Au’s first novel, Cargo, is an arresting look at what it means to be young.

Au moves her story beyond the category of Young Adult fiction by not simply showing youth, but also interrogating it. Her characters are unsure of their new, almost adult selves. Readers will feel pity and compassion for these characters on the cusp.

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Claudia Hyles reviews 'To Silence' by Subhash Jaireth

Claudia Hyles
Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The voices of Subhash Jaireth’s three fictional autobiographies within To Silence are those of historical figures. Kabir (1440–1518) was a mystic poet associated with the reformist Bhakti or Devotional Movement in medieval India. An illiterate weaver, he rejected idolatry and caste, and his principally Hindu philosophy showed significant Islamic influence. Maria Chekhova (1863–19 ...

Beatrice May Ross (Bee) is a list-maker, an amateur detective, a taxidermy assistant, and a regular teenage girl. She falls in love, fights with her best friend, and hates her mother’s new boyfriend, like plenty of adolescents. But she does so while stitching together a dead koala and trying to solve the ever-developing mystery surrounding the death of her mentor.

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A survey of recent children's picture books by Stephanie Owen Reeder

Stephanie Owen Reeder
Friday, 07 October 2011

Many Australian picture book authors and illustrators continue to develop the genre in exciting and unusual ways...

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The birth of Tom Downs on the banks of the Murray River in South Australia tragically coincided with the death of his mother. His premature arrival – in the breech position – subsequently informs how his life is played out.

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