Reviewer: Linda Jaivin

By this author

Culture October 17, 2020

In Search of the Woman Who Sailed the World

There had been an undercurrent of speculation aboard the Étoile about smooth-faced Jean Barret, the stoic and hard-working assistant and personal valet to the ship’s naturalist-doctor, Philibert Commerson. In April 1768, after the ship moored …

Culture September 26, 2020


Bluebird, the setting of Malcolm Knox’s latest novel, is an insular little community on the coastal periphery of “Ocean City”, a wink-wink stand-in for Sydney. The problem with Bluebird, and it’s mostly a problem for the middle-aged white male …

Culture August 15, 2020

Surviving Autocracy

It used to be a given that to understand the People’s Republic of China, one had to be familiar with the workings of the Soviet Union, including Leninist organisational principles, Stalinist methods of terror and control, and the nature of propaganda. …

Culture August 08, 2020

How to Talk about Climate Change

Watching the news of the 2018 climate strike, Rebecca Huntley suddenly understood that when the young people demanded action from the older generation, they were talking to her. She had, she says, a visceral reaction to this realisation. As a lawyer and …

Culture July 04, 2020

Daddy Cool

In the 1930s, as Robert Cutter, he sold more copies of “Hawaiian Paradise” than Bing Crosby. He performed before Katharine Hepburn and Clark Gable at the Academy Awards. He hadn’t quite finished divorcing his best friend’s sister when he fell …

Culture May 23, 2020

Radio Girl

As Australia entered World War II, its all-male armed services had a problem only a woman could solve. That woman was Violet McKenzie, Australia’s first female electrical engineer, a wireless radio pioneer, one of the ABC’s first broadcasters, and …

Culture April 04, 2020

Three Brothers

Yan Lianke’s Three Brothers is a tender, frank and philosophical memoir of growing up in a rural family cursed by “constant poverty” but blessed with “boundless grace”. Yan, a novelist whose biting political satires (Serve the People!, …

Culture March 14, 2020

She I Dare Not Name

Donna Ward’s piano was stranded in the middle of her study. She’d pushed it out from one wall but couldn’t get it to the other side. Two friends, a couple, came to dinner. As they were leaving, they noticed the piano. “This is a time when you …

Culture December 14, 2019

The Best Australian Science Writing 2019

We are living on the doorstep of a new global dark age, in which superstition, conspiracy theories and distrust of scientific expertise have risen hand in hand with right-wing authoritarianism. The howls of climate crisis denialists fill the air, gleefully …