Essays and Commentary

With The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013), Richard Flanagan became Australia’s third winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction, leading many people to pick up his novels for the first time and to look for some critical support in reading them ...

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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 room of the house, most of them occupied by a person and a musical instrument: a willowy woman in a slip on a chaise longue, ...

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Shaun Crowe reviews 'On Borrowed Time' by Robert Manne

Shaun Crowe
Tuesday, 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 almost lawyerly emphasis on fact and argument over style and rhetoric; a professor’s sympathy for the world of ideas over the muck ...

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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 Stead – all, for the most part, carried off with aplomb. He catches the ‘raw’ edge of Freud’s studio – ‘worksite’ as Hill calls it ...

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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 whispered my query: ‘Marilynne Robinson’s novel?’ ‘Of course!’ came the emphatic reply. The Seder ritual was suspended for ...

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This is issue no. 250, and the twenty-fifth consecutive year, of Australian Book Review. Issue No. 1 appeared in 1978, edited by John McLaren and published by the National Book Council. Since then the journal has survived and thrived, through changes of editor (though not very often) and of editorial policy (though not very much); through changes of appearance, ownership, sponsorship and affiliation.

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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 harassment that it’s hard to believe there could be anything new to add. Yet Rebecca Solnit, author of celebrated essays ...

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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 inspired his finest love poetry ...

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

Sarah Holland-Batt
Monday, 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 about the personal pronoun still persist in her non-fiction today, which is markedly self-effacing. From the outset, Smith repeatedly attempts to ditch ...

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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, with 22.6% of the population self-reporting as Catholic in the 2016 Census. It is also Australia’s largest non-government employer ...

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