January-February 2015, issue no. 368

Books of the Year 2013

Robert Adamson et al.

Books of the Year is always one our most popular features of the year. Find out what 30 senior contributors liked most this year – and why.

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Kate Hayford reviews 'The Wild Girl'

Kate Hayford

In the German kingdom of Hessen-Cassel, twelve-year-old Dortchen Wild falls in love with her scholarly neighbour Wilhelm Grimm amid the turbulent lead-up to the Napoleonic Wars. When Wilhelm and his brother Jakob undertake the task of collecting folk and fairy tales to preserve their national heritage, Dortchen becomes a willing source and participant, telling ... More

Carol Middleton reviews 'Floodline'

Carol Middleton

Floodline is the fifth novel by Kathryn Heyman, course director at Allen & Unwin’s Faber Academy. Set in an unspecified area of the United States, it follows a proselytising family, which is on a mission to save the godless inhabitants of Horneville on the eve of their annual gay mardi gras, Hornefest, when the city is devastated by floods.

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Rory Kennett-Lister reviews 'Privacy'

Rory Kennett-Lister

Privacy is an elusive concept. As Jonathan Franzen notes in his essay ‘Imperial Bedroom’ (2002), it is defined by negativity – freedom from interference, from disturbance, from observation – but resists any positive explanation. Privacy, Genna de Bont’s second novel, explores this slippery idea and uses privacy’s nebulou ... More

Phil Brown reviews 'Gotland'

Phil Brown

While I was reading this compelling but occasionally problematic novel, I started thinking about Oscar Wilde. Pretentious? Moi? The thing is, when I’m torn between opposing views of the same thing, I tend to think of Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol … ‘two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars’. So I found myself in t ... More

Wendy Were reviews 'Zero at the Bone'

Wendy Were

In Zero at the Bone, David Whish-Wilson envisions Perth in 1979 at the height of a major gold mining revival stimulated by price increases associated with the end of the gold standard in 1971. Perth is booming, and the culture of greed and excess that will characterise the 1980s is already well entrenched.

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Rosemary Sorensen reviews 'Barracuda'

Rosemary Sorensen

Rosemary Sorensen review Christos Tsolkas’s new novel, Barracuda, another bracing study of masculinity, this time focusing on an ambitious and conflicted young swimmer at a Melbourne private school.

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Brian Matthews reviews Tim Winton's 'Eyrie'

Brian Matthews

In a notable month for major new Australian fiction, Tim Winton’s Eyrie stands out. Brian Matthews reviews this darkly funny novel – ‘a scarifying assessment of the way we live now’

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Dark Horse'

Jay Daniel Thompson

D ark Horse is the latest book from Victorian author Honey Brown. The novel tells of lust and lies between two strangers who come together in an appropriately secluded rural location.

Sarah Barnard has recently left an unhappy marriage, and is spending the Christmas period camping with her horse, Tansy. Sarah’s solitu ... More

Alice Bishop reviews 'Holiday in Cambodia'

Alice Bishop

Seamlessly extending from the French occupation of Cambodia to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and the current tourism industry, Laura Jean McKay’s début short story collection, Holiday in Cambodia, is a powerful portrait of a country long-affected by war and poverty. McKay’s knowledge of the Cambodian landscape underpins the collection. She evokes ... More

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