April 2017, issue no. 390

Craig Billingham reviews 'The Last Will and Testament of Henry Hoffman' by John Tesarsch

Craig Billingham

John Tesarsch's second novel, following the acclaimed The Philanthropist (2010), concerns the will of Henry Hoffman, a brilliant but taciturn mathematician who has committed suicide on his farm in rural Victoria. Hoffman's three children – doctoral student Eleano ... More

Patrick Allington reviews 'Hope Farm' by Peggy Frew

Patrick Allington

'I try to imagine going back': so begins a story about a woman remembering her childhood even when it seems she would just as soon forget it. Hope Farm is Melbourne writer and musician Peggy Frew's second novel. Her terrific début, House of Sticks (2011), was about, among other things, contemporary parenthood and the rhythm of conventional and unc ... More

Naama Amram reviews 'The Waiting Room' by Leah Kaminsky

Naama Grey-Smith

'Freg nisht dem royfe, freg dem khoyle – Don't ask the doctor, ask the patient,' my grandmother says in Yiddish, one of eight languages at her disposal, having grown up in Europe during World War II and migrated as a teenager to the multilingual melting pot of Israel. I smile and ask her for another gem. My grandmother obliges, this time with a juicy-soun ... More

Josephine Taylor reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2015' edited by Amanda Lohrey

Josephine Taylor

In Jo Case's 'Something Wild', young single mother Kristen is tempted to rediscover 'the thrill of doing what she feels like, just to see what happens'. She could be speaking for characters in many of the pieces in The Best Australian Stories 2015, a collection that features people on the verge of transgression. As Amanda Lohrey writes in her introduction, ... More

Sarah Holland-Batt reviews 'The High Places' by Fiona McFarlane

Sarah Holland-Batt

Towards the end of Fiona McFarlane's enigmatic collection of short stories, The High Places, we meet the odd, enchanting story 'Good News for Modern Man', which functions as a key to many of the book's concerns. The story centres around Dr Bill Birch, a malacologist undertaking an obsessive study of a colossal female squid, Mabel, which he has trapped in Ne ... More

Brigid Magner reviews 'The Mountain Shadow' by Gregory David Roberts

Brigid Magner

Devoted fans have been awaiting the sequel to Gregory David Roberts's cult classic Shantaram for twelve years. A bestselling book in Australia and overseas, Shantaram centres on Lin, an escaped Australian criminal who becomes a Bombay gangster. Loosely based on the author's own life, Shantaram encouraged an intriguing frisson between the w ... More

Craig Billingham reviews 'Cloudless' by Christine Evans

Craig Billingham

Cloudless is the first verse novel from Christine Evans, a Australian playwright now resident in Washington, D.C., where she is a member of faculty at Georgetown University. Set in Perth in the 1980s, after 'the late seventies / when Bondy ruled the roost', but twenty years prior to the mining boom, Cloudless relates the story of eight characters w ... More

Josephine Taylor reviews 'The Hands' by Stephen Orr

Josephine Taylor

The Wilkie family has farmed cattle at the edge of the desert for 130 years. When catastrophe strikes, three generations of men must wrestle with secrets from the past and the present. The decision whether or not to continue on a failing station becomes critical; definitive action no less testing.

The subtitle juxtaposes elegy and irony: though some characte ... More

Jenni Kauppi reviews 'The Sleepers Almanac X' edited by Zoe Dattner and Louise Swinn

Jenni Kauppi

In more than ten years on the scene, Sleepers has positioned itself as both champion of the small press sector – the natural home of the short story – and a canny player in the broader publishing landscape; its Almanac has been a reliable litmus test for the direction of new Australian writing.

In this instalment, several absurdist and satirical works are stacked into the c ... More

Chris Flynn reviews 'Abacus' by Louis Armand

Chris Flynn

Abacus is Prague-based Australian author and poet Louis Armand's seventh novel, his fifth in as many years. Such a prolific work rate is admirable, but in telling a story which covers the entirety of the twentieth century, as seen through the eyes of ten disparate ... More

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