Kari Gislason

Kári Gíslason reviews 'Scandinavians: In search of the soul of the North' by Robert Ferguson

Kári Gíslason
06 December 2017

When I was twenty-seven, I visited mainland Scandinavia for the first time. I had spent the last of my travel money on a rail pass, and I was on a tight budget. One day, I thought I would More

Kári Gíslason reviews 'Farewell to the Father' by Tim Elliott

Kári Gíslason
22 August 2016

One of the claims that is sometimes made for the memoir form is that it gives the author a degree of release from the past. Getting it down on paper can also be about ...

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Reading Australia: 'Romulus, My Father' by Raimond Gaita

Kári Gíslason
31 March 2015

In a critical moment of reflection and pause, Romulus, My Father offers the reader a key to its interpretation. The author – philosopher Raimond Gaita – tells us that ‘Plato said that those who love and seek wisdom are clinging in recollection to things they once saw’. This reference to the Greek philosopher’s work < ... More

Catriona Menzies-Pike reviews 'The Ash Burner' by Kári Gíslason

Catriona Menzies-Pike
26 March 2015

Midway through Kári Gíslason’s début novel, The Ash Burner, Ted, his dreamy, curious narrator, watches Anthony paint Claire. As she strikes angular poses for him, Ted reflects on how he would paint her: ‘I would have waited for the moments when she relaxed that pose and when her outline, the shape of her waist, was allowed to stand uncorrected by art o ... More

Kári Gíslason reviews a new biography of Hans Christian Andersen

Kári Gíslason
26 August 2014

How a writer bears witness to his age is necessarily the expression of many things, not least the possibly quite peculiar nature of an author’s life. Literary works often emerge from complex upbringings, from periods of youthful isolation spent reading and writing. More still seem to have been written as a result of the fraught relationships that befall authors, p ... More

Robert Hillman's 'Joyful'

Kári Gíslason
30 April 2014

While it may not be a novel’s main purpose, certainly one of its pleasures can lie in how it witnesses the history of the form itself. All novels reveal something of the genealogy from which they emerge, their debt to past traditions and ways of storytelling. Rather as is the case with families, sometimes the further back you go the more striking the resemblance b ... More

Kári Gíslason on Peter Goldsworthy's memoir

Kári Gíslason
27 November 2013

Italo Calvino once observed that the ideal condition for a writer is ‘close to anonymity’, adding that ‘the more the author’s figure invades the field, the more the world he portrays empties’. These comments about anonymity were made during an interview on Swiss television, no less. Calvino must have felt his imaginary worlds slipping away as he spoke.

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A History of Silence

Kári Gíslason
25 September 2013

Memoirist Kári Gíslason reviews New Zealander author Lloyd Jones’s ‘brilliant memoir’ about the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch and a series of ancestral silences.

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Kári Gíslason on 'Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure'

Kári Gíslason
26 March 2013

However much we may locate the joy of travel in the sudden revelations of a new experience, one of its most enduring pleasures lies in collecting for later. For the collector–traveller, journeys abroad offer an escape from the familiar and, as importantly, a chance to assemble a different kind of education from the one we receive at home, a living textbook shaped ... More

Kári Gíslason on the new biography of Strindberg

Kári Gíslason
27 November 2012

One way of classifying biographies is to divide them into those that apply their own interpretative framework – be it psychoanalytic, gender-based, socio-historical, and so on – to a given subject and those that aim to meet the subject, on their own terms, or at least in terms that the subject would recognise. There are good and bad things to say about both appr ... More