January-February 2015, issue no. 368

Ben Smith reviews new short stories by Abbas El-Zein

Ben Smith

‘Fields of Vision’, the first story of Abbas El-Zein’s collection, introduces us to a world in which tragedy is swift and often arbitrary, and if not arbitrary, at least stems from motivations so obscure as to appear so. The sniper protagonist of this story, perched atop his Beirut rooftop, picks off citizens at random, revelling in his having ‘a place in th ... More

Sara Savage reviews 'The Train to Paris'

Sara Savage

Lawrence Williams is a twenty-year-old New Zealander about to commence studying art history at the Sorbonne. Stranded at a deserted train station in the French town of Hendaye after a less-than-perfect holiday in Madrid with his girlfriend, he is suddenly arrested by the sight of a woman twice his age who saunters past him in a white leopard-print dress. A few pages ... More

Jo Riccioni's 'The Italians at Cleat's Corner Store

Alex Cothren

During World War II, billeted Axis POWs were deemed such a threat to the morals of British women that theBritish government enacted legislation proscribing amorous fraternisation. Although these laws were rescinded in the conflict’s aftermath, Jo Riccioni’s début novel demonstrates that the appeal of the foreigner endured, as a family of Italians arrive to disr ... More

Suzanne McCourt's The Lost Child

Carol Middleton

This début novel by Melbourne writer Suzanne McCourt is a coming-of-age story set in the wild coastal landscape of the Coorong in the 1950s. Writing from the point of view of a child, McCourt captures the heightened sensibility of her narrator, Sylvie, to portray a family in devastating close-up and a natural world teeming with smells and sounds and sights.

... More

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Cicada'

Francesca Sasnaitis

Moira McKinnon practised as a community doctor in Halls Creek, in the Kimberley, where her first novel Cicada is also set. She was joint winner of the 2011 Calibre Prize for her essay ‘Who Killed Matilda?’, the story of an Aboriginal woman whose audacity and traditional ... More

Craig Sherborne's Tree Palace

Jane Goodall

Craig Sherborne’s previous books include two memoirs, Hoi Polloi (2005) and Muck (2007), and an autobiographical novel, The Amateur Science of Love (2011). His second novel, Tree Palace, is an excursion outside the confines of the first-person narrative. First-person narrative does not of course always imply confinement, but in Sherborn ... More

Morag Fraser reviews two new books by Edna O'Brien

Morag Fraser

In the 1960s she was deemed an Irish Jezebel. After the publication of her début novel, The Country Girls (1960), the local postmistress told her father that a fitting punishment would be for her to be kicked naked through the town.

Now, a half century later, her litterateur countryman John Banville has introduced Edna O’Brien’s Collected Stor ... More

Linda Jaivin's The Empress Lover

Kate Holden
In Linda Jaivins’ new novel, the protagonist is a Jaivinesque Australian expat shivering in a Beijing butong room. Kate Holden follows the twists and turns of The Empress Lover, with certain reservations.

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Doug Wallen reviews 'The Weaver Fish'

Doug Wallen

Perth writer Robert Edeson has been published in the fields of neuroscience, biophysics, and mathematics, but The Weaver Fish is his début foray into fiction. He doesn’t leave that diverse scholarly background behind, though, packing the novel with dazzling science and sprawling footnotes while indulging in mischievous wordplay and fabricated nations and a ... More

Amy Baillieu reviews 'Letter to George Clooney'

Amy Baillieu

There are some writers whose style is so distinctive they can be identified from a single paragraph. Sydney writer Debra Adelaide is more of a chameleon. Letter to George Clooney is Adelaide’s first short story collection. She has previously written three novels and edited several anthologies. Her first novel, The Hotel Albatross (1995), is the meand ... More

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