April 2017, issue no. 390
The Silent Invasion, James Bradley’s first Young Adult novel and the first in a trilogy, begins in generic post-apocalyptic fashion. Humanity crowds into restricted safe zones, hiding from an intergalactic plague that infects living matter with the mysterious Change. Adolescent protagonist Callie’s younger sister Gracie is infected; to prevent her demise at the hands of Quarantine, ... More
An epigraph from Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected lectures (2012) sets the tone of Libby Angel’s novel, The Trapeze Act ‘what is the moment but a fragment of greater time?’ This book is composed of fragments, which, taken together, capture the desire for a complete understanding of history and the impossibility of satisfyin ... More
There is a moment in ‘The Skit’ – the second in a collection of sixteen short stories by Indian-Australian author Roanna Gonsalves – when the writer protagonist, upon reading her work to a group of her peers (‘the Bombay gang’, as she describes them, ‘still on student visas, still drinking out of second-hand glasses from Vinnies, and eating off melamin ... More
Domestic violence is an everyday reality for tens of thousands of women in Australia. Recent horrors and public campaigns have raised awareness of this social scourge. Journalists have written extensively on the subject, yet it is novelists, as Michael Sala shows in The Restorer, that can give us a more acute view of the emotional complexities that bind cou ... More
In the age of e-readers, this is a book to own in hard copy, because it is very beautiful: a hardback with a dust jacket in the pale frosted blue-green of a Monarch butterfly chrysalis, with a small bright parrot front and centre, wings outspread, reminding the reader that the word ‘refugee’ has its roots in the Latin word for ‘flight’.
Professor Vie ... More
From the Wreck is a deeply ecological novel. It isn’t quite cli-fi – that new genre of fiction concerned with dramatising the effects of our changing climate on people and the world – rather, it is underpinned by an awareness of the connectedness of creatures: animal, human, and otherworldly alike, and narrated in parts by a creature who has fled anot ... More
John Kinsella’s short stories are the closest thing Australians have to Ron Rash’s tales of washed-out rural America, where weakened and solitary men stand guard over their sad patch of compromised integrity in a world of inescapable poverty, trailer homes, uninsured sickness, and amphetamine wastage. Poe’s adventure stories and internally collapsing character ... More
The American critic Adam Gopnik writes: ‘Nothing is more American than our will to make the enormous do the work of the excellent. We have googly eyes for gargantuan statements.’ Paul Auster’s long-awaited novel, 4321, is a gargantuan statement. At almost 900 pages, the sheer physical heft of it is impossible to ignore. When a novel is as thick as it ... More
Mount Barker, its surrounding environs and proliferating estates, might be situated in volcanic territory for all the ferocious eruptions of violence that occur in Rebekah Clarkson’s collection of stories, Barking Dogs. The demographic is noticeably white Australian. In ‘Dancing on Your Bones’, a loathsome consultant suggests the government develop the Summit ... More
Described as ‘modern literary noir’, Fiona Capp’s novel delves deeper into the psychology of its characters than most in the genre. The opening is sleek and pacey, as Capp guides us expertly through the central intrigue.
Ned is squatting in a boatshed on the Mornington Peninsula, having entrusted the investment of the sum of his and his sister’s inhe ... More