Essays and Commentary

2018 Calibre Essay Prize (runner-up): 'Once Again: Outside in the House of Art'

Kirsten Tranter
26 April 2018

The setting is a gorgeous, somewhat decayed, many-roomed Georgian mansion in upstate New York, near the Hudson, in 2012. Nine screens placed around a darkened gallery space each show a roo More

Shaun Crowe reviews 'On Borrowed Time' by Robert Manne

Shaun Crowe
24 April 2018

By now, the Robert Manne essay is a well-established form – four decades at the centre of public life will do that. Whatever the topic, his pieces tend to possess certain qualities: an a More

Patrick McCaughey reviews 'Reason and Lovelessness: Essays, encounters, reviews 1980–2017' by Barry Hill

Patrick McCaughey
24 April 2018

Barry Hill’s collection of essays from the last four decades is commanding and impressive. Few could match his range of subjects: from Tagore to John Berger, Lucian Freud to Christina St More

Morag Fraser reviews 'What Are We Doing Here?: Essays' by Marilynne Robinson

Morag Fraser
24 April 2018

At a recent Passover Seder in Melbourne, I caught the word ‘Gilead’. ‘My favourite book!’ exclaimed the woman opposite me. I was a Catholic guest at a gracious Jewish table, so I w More

Johanna Leggatt reviews 'The Mother of all Questions: Further feminisms' by Rebecca Solnit

Johanna Leggatt
26 March 2018

So much has been written about male–female power dynamics, Trump’s grotesqueries, the public outing of protected abusers, and the growing chorus of women speaking out about sexual hara More

Patrick McCaughey reviews 'The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick' edited by Darryl Pinckney

Patrick McCaughey
26 March 2018

Elizabeth Hardwick is, unfairly, better known outside of New York as Robert Lowell’s second wife, who heroically endured twenty-three years of tumultuous and tortuous marriage. She inspi More

Sarah Holland-Batt reviews 'Feel Free: Essays' by Zadie Smith

Sarah Holland-Batt
26 March 2018

‘When I was younger even the appearance of “I” on the page made me feel a bit ill,’ Zadie Smith confesses in her new book of essays, Feel Free. Shades of this chariness ab More

ABR RAFT Fellowship: 'God and Caesar in Australia' by Paul Collins

Paul Collins
23 February 2018

Like it or lump it, Catholicism is enormously influential in Australia. This is true even just in terms of raw statistics. The Catholic Church is the largest religious body in the country, More

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Elizabeth Harrower: Critical essays' edited by Elizabeth McMahon and Brigitta Olubas

Susan Sheridan
22 February 2018

The appearance in 2014 of In Certain Circles, a new novel from Elizabeth Harrower, was an important literary event. The author, who still lives in Sydney, had published nothing si More

Lucas Thompson reviews 'The Best Australian Essays 2017' edited by Anna Goldsworthy

Lucas Thompson
22 February 2018

It takes only five months for a newt to regrow a lost limb. Skittles and Tic Tacs both made public statements denouncing Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential race. Psychologists have More

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