Reading Australia Essays

'by the river' by Steven Herrick

Felicity Plunkett
02 November 2016

by the river evokes the textures of a small Australian town in 1962 through lean episodic poems that drift along gently until moments of intensity break their banks. Through a lei More

Reading Australia: 'The Divine Wind' by Garry Disher

Alice Pung
06 December 2016

A generation living in peacetime is inclined to devalue the identity and place of soldiers. In Australia, active soldiers have been maligned as meddle More

Reading Australia: 'Zac and Mia' by A.J. Betts

Agnes Nieuwenhuizen
09 January 2017

In the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s there was a flurry of what were called ‘single issue’ or ‘problem’ novels for teenagers. The books focused on problems or issues that ...More

Reading Australia: 'The Messenger' by Markus Zusak

Felicity Castagna
11 January 2017

In the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s there was a flurry of what were called ‘single issue’ or ‘problem’ novels for teenagers. The books focused on problems or issues that ...More

Reading Australia: 'The Lost Thing' by Shaun Tan

Gary Crew
02 November 2016

Written and illustrated by Shaun Tan, The Lost Thing (2000) prompts readers to ask: ‘Who is this book for and what does it mean?’ Tan, in a personal email to the author, himself confesses that the work is a fable ‘about all sorts of social concerns with a rather ambiguous ending’, while the unnamed narrator of the story nonchalantly confesses: ‘do ... More

Reading Australia: 'A Mother's Disgrace' by Robert Dessaix

Kerryn Goldsworthy
12 September 2016

On the day that Robert Dessaix first came face to face with his birth mother, he was already in his mid-forties. Adopted as a newborn baby in 1944 by a couple who loved and cared for him through his childhood and adolescence, he had grown up in Sydney, had invented his own imaginary land with its own language, had been married for twelve years, divorced, negotiated ... More

Reading Australia: 'Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines' by David Unaipon

Billy Griffiths
31 August 2016

David Unaipon's Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines is part of the classical culture of Australia. The collection is as varied in subject as it is ambitious ...

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Reading Australia: 'The Removalists' by David Williamson

James McNamara
09 February 2016

David Williamson is our most distinguished dramatist. His plays have been performed to acclaim in Australia and internationally. His screenplays, notably Gallipoli (1981), define a certain Australian mythos. Williamson is considered an establishment playwright, depicting middle-class fears and foibles in major theatres. But he came to prominence in a differ ... More

Reading Australia: 'Dimboola' by Jack Hibberd

Judith Rodriguez
24 December 2015

Dimboola's title is a great start to the play that was first performed in 1969. It belongs nowhere but in Australia. At the same time, not many people can claim to have lived there or to know someone from Dimboola. Indigenous? Maybe. And where is Dimboola? You drive through it on your way to somewhere else. It's in Victoria, out where all the roads are sign ... More

Kerryn Goldsworthy on 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas

Kerryn Goldsworthy
30 June 2015
The slap that I wanted to deliver with that book was to a culture in Australia that had literally made me sick, sick to the stomach. A middle class culture that struck me as incredibly selfish and ungenerous … I wanted to try and write a book ... that represented that culture. And to do that, honestly, I had to put myself in the middle of it. I also had to put my Greekness in the mid ... More
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