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Beejay Silcox

Beejay Silcox is an Australian writer and critic, the Artistic Director of Canberra Writers Festival, and chair of the 2024 Stella Prize. She was also the recipient of ABR’s Fortieth Birthday Fellowship. Her literary criticism and cultural commentary regularly appears in national arts publications, and is increasingly finding an international audience, including in the Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian and The New York Times. Her award-winning short stories have been published at home and abroad, and have been selected for a number of Australian anthologies.

Beejay Silcox reviews 'On Helen Garner: Writers on writers' by Sean O’Beirne

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
Oh, how I detest tiny books – those cutesy little hardbacks that are sold next to the novelty bookmarks and greeting cards. 101 Reasons Why Dogs/Cats Are Better Than Cats/Dogs; Inspo quotes for Insta feminists; The Pocket Marcus Aurelias (for the stoic on-the-go); The Pocket Tarot (for the soothsayer on-the-go); The Tao of Something. They are the literary equivalent of supermarket checkout cho ... (read more)

Beejay Silcox reviews 'Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller' by Nadia Wassef

January–February 2022, no. 439 21 December 2021
The Nile runs straight through the middle of Cairo, from south to north like a grand zip. In the middle of this citied stretch of river there is an island known colloquially by the name of the suburb that crowds it: Zamalek. Once the grounds of a summer palace, the island became a colonial stronghold in the 1880s, when an extravagant leisure club was built for British Army officers, replete with c ... (read more)

Beejay Silcox reviews 'Beautiful World, Where Are You' by Sally Rooney

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
By the time I received my heftily embargoed galley of Sally Rooney’s new novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, it would have been more lucrative to auction the book online than review it, such is the wild demand for Rooney’s fiction, the monetised eagerness. I’ve ruined my chances for unethical riches with my margin scrawls, dog-ears, and penchant for spine-breaking (reading, after all, is ... (read more)

Beejay Silcox reviews 'Klara and the Sun' by Kazuo Ishiguro

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
Klara is an Artificial Friend (AF), an android companion for spoiled tweens. She’s not the newest model, but what Klara lacks in top-of-the-line joint mobility and showy acrobatics, she makes up for in observational nous; she’s an uncommonly gifted reader of faces and bodies, a finely calibrated empathy machine. Every feeling Klara decodes becomes part of her neural circuitry. The more she see ... (read more)

Beejay Silcox reviews 'Witness: An investigation into the brutal cost of seeking justice' by Louise Milligan

January–February 2021, no. 428 21 December 2020
‘If victims don’t come forward, what then?’ Louise Milligan, Witness The street entrance to the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court is a scoop-hungry gauntlet of journos who spend the day jostling for soundbites, ever ready to give chase. As a rookie reporter, Louise Milligan used to be part of the Sydney court scrum, but when she arrived to give evidence in Australia’s ‘Trial of the De ... (read more)

Beejay Silcox reviews 'The Lying Life of Adults' by Elena Ferrante

November 2020, no. 426 22 October 2020
Opening a review with a book’s first line allows a critic to thieve the author’s momentum for themselves. I am in a thieving mood. For the first line of Elena Ferrante’s new novel, The Lying Life of Adults, carries an enviable wallop: ‘Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly.’ It’s the kind of line – charged, discomforting, and vicious – that ... (read more)

Beejay Silcox reviews 'The Night Watchman' by Louise Erdrich

March 2020, no. 419 21 February 2020
‘If you should ever doubt that a series of dry words in a government document can shatter spirits and demolish lives, let this book erase that doubt. Conversely if you should be of the conviction that we are powerless to change those dry words, let this book give you heart’ Louise Erdrich   Louise Erdrich would never write again. The National Book Award-winning author was bereft o ... (read more)

Beejay Silcox reviews 'The Testaments' by Margaret Atwood

November 2019, no. 416 07 October 2019
There was never any question that The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s coda to The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), would be a gargantuan blockbuster, a publishing Godzilla, giddily hyped and fiercely embargoed. Bookshops across the world counted down the minutes until midnight on September 10 (GMT), when the envy-green volume – already the odds-on favourite for the Booker Prize – could be unboxed. On ... (read more)

Beejay Silcox reviews 'Syria’s Secret Library: Reading and redemption in a town under siege' by Mike Thomson

October 2019, no. 415 25 September 2019
‘War is only the superficial face that you see first. Underneath that, there is so much humanity, so much else taking place. There may be death but there is also normal life here too.’ Anas Habib, co-founder, the Secret Library.   A rebel stronghold on the southern edge of Damascus, the Syrian suburb of Daraya, was violently isolated by the Assad regime for almost four years ... (read more)

'Metal language', a new story by Beejay Silcox

June–July 2019, no. 412 23 April 2019
I am a girl who knows how to hold a gun. On weekends, Dad drives me out to the pistol club, while Mum pulls white-sapped weeds from the garden. She plants natives that can handle the salt in the air; angular, bristling plants with angular, bristling names: banksia, grevillea, bottlebrush. A line of Geraldton Wax along the verge to replace some mean and blighted rose bushes. She knows we won ... (read more)
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