October 2017, issue no. 395

Bernadette Brennan reviews 'The Last Garden' by Eva Hornung

Bernadette Brennan
29 May 2017

The epigraph to the first chapter of Eva Hornung’s The Last Garden speaks of Nebelung, a time of great prosperity, joy, and hope for new life. Over the page, Hornung shatters any sense of well-being with an extraordinary opening sentence: ‘On a mild Nebelung’s afternoon, Matthias Orion, having lived as an exclamation mark in the Wahrheit settlement an ... More

Anna MacDonald reviews 'This Water: Five tales' by Beverley Farmer

Anna MacDonald
26 May 2017

There is a distinct poignancy attached to last things, a sense in which they encapsulate all that has gone before at the same time as they anticipate an end. In the moment of their first manifestation, last things are already haunted by their own absence. This Water: Five tales is the first book by Beverley Farmer to be published since 2005, and has been an ... More

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness' by Arundhati Roy

Kerryn Goldsworthy
25 May 2017

Arundhati Roy’s first and only other novel was The God of Small Things (1997). It attracted an advance of half a million pounds; publishing rights were sold in twenty-one countries; and it won the 1997 Booker Prize, as it was then called. Since then it has sold six million copies and has been translated into forty languages. In the interval, Roy has been ... More

Anna MacDonald reviews 'See What I Have Done' by Sarah Schmidt

Anna MacDonald
30 April 2017

In this gripping first novel, Sarah Schmidt re-imagines the lives of Lizzie Borden, her family, and the brutal double murder of her father and stepmother, for which Lizzie became notorious. Set in and around the Borden’s house at Fall River, Massachusetts, the narrative has a dense, claustrophobic air that feeds the portrayal of this family as menacingly close.

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Benjamin Chandler reviews 'All Fall Down' by Cassandra Austin

Benjamin Chandler
30 April 2017

The collapse of a bridge is the catalyst in Cassandra Austin’s All Fall Down, isolating the small town of Mululuk in true Australian gothic fashion ...

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Crusader Hillis reviews 'Down the Hume' by Peter Polites

Crusader Hillis
30 April 2017

Peter Polites’s first novel is remarkable in its power to evoke growing up caught between conflicting cultural and sexual identities. It tells the story of Bux, a gay man haunted by his addiction to painkillers, his abusive relationship with his drug-dealing bodybuilder boyfriend, his violent alcoholic Greek father, and a childhood where his sexuality and his trad ... More

Tessa Lunney reviews 'A Hundred Small Lessons' by Ashley Hay

Tessa Lunney
30 April 2017

Hundred Small Lessons holds powerful truths, simply told. It is a story of parenthood and place, where small domestic moments, rather than dramatic public displays, are the links between people, the present a More

Anna Spargo-Ryan reviews 'Jean Harley Was Here' by Heather Taylor Johnson

Anna Spargo-Ryan
30 April 2017

There is much to like about a well-executed set of short stories, and this is true of Jean Harley Was Here. While the book presents itself as a novel, it has more in common with Elizabeth More

Doug Wallen reviews 'Storyland' by Catherine McKinnon

Doug Wallen
30 April 2017

‘I write best from place,’ Catherine McKinnon told Fairfax newspapers in a recent interview. Her second novel, which concerns centuries of human interaction with the New South Wales co More

Beejay Silcox reviews 'The Idiot' by Elif Batuman

Beejay Silcox
27 April 2017

Email is a chimeric beast, an uneasy mix of intimacy and distance – unlimited time and space to say precisely what we mean, coupled with the unnerving promise of instant delivery ...

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