Australian Fiction

Book to Film

Peter Yeldham
Thursday, 22 October 2020

When the ABC asked me to adapt Roger McDonald’s novel 1915 into a major seven-part serial, I declined. Ray Alchin, producer and head of the ABC’s film studio in Sydney, looked at me with disbelief and asked me to read it again. So I read it again, twice, and thanked him for having the good sense to see its possibilities, and gratefully accepted.

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Estelle Tang reviews 'Speak to Me' by Sarah Hopkins

Estelle Tang
Saturday, 08 August 2020

The title of Sarah Hopkins’s second novel, Speak to Me, is an exhortation: bridge the gap between us. It is also an expression of hope, however misguided, that such a gap can be bridged: if only we could speak, we could heal.

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This novel raises more interesting questions about its author than about its characters and action.

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I had fun imagining Sonya Hartnett and Isobelle Carmody indulging in a little pre-publication chit-chat:

IC: What are you working on now, Sonya?
SH: A children’s story about two orphaned brothers battling for survival in a world turned upside down; talking animals; themes of freedom and loss. What about you?
IC: A children’s story about two orphaned brothers struggling for survival in a world suddenly turned alien; talking animals; themes of resilience and loss …

The result is two different novels, but the marketing meetings at Penguin must have been interesting.

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Miss Maude Silver, Miss Jane Marple, where are you, with your splendid and authoritative bosoms, your discreet inquiries, natural reticence, and cunning powers of deduction? Oh, a long way from these sisters in crime.

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Amy Baillieu reviews 'Campaign Ruby' by Jessica Rudd

Amy Baillieu
Friday, 24 July 2020

Jessica Rudd’s fiction début, Campaign Ruby, is witty and warm-hearted chick lit set against a convincingly painted and disconcertingly prescient political backdrop.

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The Body in the Clouds, Ashley Hay’s scintillating and accomplished first novel, is in fact her fifth book, its predecessors all being non-fiction. There was the Lord Byron book, The Secret: The Strange Marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron (2000), Gum: The story of eucalypts and their champions (2002), Herbarium (2004) and Museum: The Macleays, their collections and the search for order (2007).

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Symposium: The State of Australian Fiction

McKenzie Wark, Katharine England, James Bradley
Friday, 24 July 2020
A Symposium on the state of Australian Fiction with McKenzie Wark, Katharine England, and James Bradley ... (read more)

Nancy Keesing reviews 'Slipstream' by Roger McDonald

Nancy Keesing
Friday, 24 July 2020

Aviation was a myth still in the making to my generation of Australian children. We cricked our necks watching a patch of sky for Amy Johnson’s arrival and, indeed, whenever an aeroplane engine was heard aloft, as if the watching itself was a necessary act of will, or prayer, to ensure the safety of those magnificent men and women whose photographs showed them always ear-muffed, be-goggled and leather-jacketed, smiling and jauntily waving thumbs up to us their earthbound worshippers.

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Of Elizabeth Jolley’s first novel, Palomino (1980), Nancy Keesing said it ‘establishes Elizabeth Jolley as absolutely one of the best writers of fiction in this country’ (ABR, March 1981). Of The Newspaper of Claremont Street, Tom Shapcott said its ‘capacity to touch the very nerve centre of human fragility, of exposing the tragedy in human needs within the small comedy of existence, is something I have not seen done with such delicate balance and precision since the ‘Pnin’ stories of Vladimir Nabakov’ (Fremantle Arts Centre Broadsheet, January-February, 1982). Sally McInerney’s judgement of The Newspaper is that ‘this slight and disturbing novel sways between socio­political allegory (about work and non­human relations) and conventional storytelling, and the two elements work against each other’ (National Times, 17–23 January, 1982). I agree with Keesing and Shapcott, but can understand why McInerney might have come to her conclusion.

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