Essays and Commentary

Tony Birch on 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' by Thomas Keneally for Reading Australia

Tony Birch
27 May 2015

Thomas Keneally’s novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) is based in part on historical events, particularly the crimes committed by Jimmy Governor, an Aboriginal man from New South Wales. In 1900, Governor was a key figure involved in the killing of nine Europeans, including five women and children. The killings followed Governor’s marriage t ... More

Reading Australia: 'That Deadman Dance' by Kim Scott

Patrick Allington
27 May 2015

The shortlist for the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award, which included Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, was controversial because it consisted of only three novels, all written by men. The exclusion of women writers for that year itself was noteworthy: for example, Fiona McGregor’s fine novel of Sydney, Indelible InkMore

'Sound Bridges: A Profile of Gurrumul' by Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett
27 May 2015
In April 2011 the Australian edition of Rolling Stone featured a cover photo of Yolngu multi-instrumentalist and singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu ... More

Reading Australia: 'Journey to the Stone Country' by Alex Miller

Morag Fraser
20 May 2015

There is no recommended apprenticeship for writers. Nor are there any prescribed personal or professional qualifications. Hermits, obsessives, insurance clerks, customs officers, women who embroider, men who write letters, public servants, soldiers, drunks, provincial doctors and gulag inmates have all become great writers. How? A mystery. But avidity – about the ... More

Luke Slattery reviews 'Being There' by David Malouf

Luke Slattery
27 April 2015

In ‘Birthday Poem at Thirty’, a young David Malouf considers his place in the scheme of things as dawn breaks over an unnamed and unlovely ‘northern town’. The poet, who seems dislodged from home, regards himself with a dry eye – ‘no visible scars / no medals’ – and wonders where he will go from here, and how far. ‘Far indeed’, is the answer life ... More

2015 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Staying with the trouble'

Sophie Cunningham
22 April 2015

Percy Grainger walked to avoid self-flagellation. David Sedaris walked to placate his Fitbit. Virginia Woolf walked the streets of London, and later the South Downs, endlessly: because she More

'The Golden Age of Television?' by James McNamara

James McNamara
24 March 2015

In 2013, US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich asked Australians to stop pirating Game of Thrones. A single episode of HBO’s gritty fantasy drama had been illegally downloaded over four million times, equalling the legitimate viewership of the program. ‘As the Ambassador here in Australia,’ Mr Bleich wrote, ‘it was especially troubling to find out that Austral ... More

Susan Sheridan on 'It's Raining in Mango' by Thea Astley for Reading Australia

Susan Sheridan
17 February 2015

It’s Raining in Mango: Pictures from the Family Album was first published in 1987, on the eve of the bicentenary of white settlement in Australia, when many versions of the story of Australia were advanced and debated. Thea Astley’s book presents a family, the Laffeys, as a microcosm of the national story. It is a novel made up of stories told by Connie ... More

''Tirra Lirra' and Beyond - Jessica Anderson’s truthful fictions' by Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan
11 February 2015
‘Everyone I talk to remembers Tirra Lirra by the River as a wonderful book, sometimes even as a life-changing one. But why don’t we hear anything about it today?’ This was a youn More

Kerryn Goldsworthy on 'Tirra Lirra by the River' by Jessica Anderson for Reading Australia

Kerryn Goldsworthy
11 February 2015

In 1978, Australia’s two most coveted national literary prizes of the time were both won by women: Helen Garner’s first novel Monkey Grip (1977) won the National Book Council Award for fiction, and the Miles Franklin Literary Award was won by Tirra Lirra by the River (1978), Jessica Anderson’s fourth novel. Both of these books have since become c ... More

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