Reviewer: SH

By this author

Books March 10, 2018

The Everlasting Sunday

In the winter of 1962, 17-year-old Radford is brought from London to Goodwin Manor, somewhere in the English Midlands. While we don’t know why Radford has been brought here, we learn that the manor is an institution for boys who have been “found by …

Books November 04, 2017

Can You Hear the Sea?

In Can You Hear the Sea? Brenda Niall, author of biographies of Martin Boyd, Judy Cassab and Daniel Mannix, trains her eye on her grandmother, Agnes “Aggie” Maguire. The daughter of Irish refugees who have flourished in the grim seaport …

Books July 15, 2017

The Pacific Room

Michael Fitzgerald’s debut, The Pacific Room, is putatively a novel about the last days of Robert Louis Stevenson. After several years travelling around the Pacific, the Scottish author of Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr …

Books March 25, 2017


Bloodlines follows two Australian women as they make new lives for themselves in unfamiliar places. In modern-day Fremantle, 31-year-old Beth decides to travel to Papua New Guinea. Something has gone wrong for Beth in her life with boyfriend …

Books January 28, 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo

George Saunders is an award-winning master of the American short story. Over the past three decades he has produced several collections and a body of work that is characterised by formal ingenuity and ventriloquistic flair. That he would produce his …

Books December 03, 2016

Rotten Row

“Rotten Row” is the nickname given to the bustling street in Harare that is home to the criminal division of the Magistrates Court. In this collection of interconnected stories, Petina Gappah takes these courts as her subject and through the prism …

Books November 12, 2016

The Terranauts

Terranaut Ramsay Roothoorp’s big “closure ceremony” speech has been followed by an uncomfortable silence. He has given them some numbers – the hermetically sealed Ecosphere where the eight Terranauts will spend the next 24 months is three acres …

Books September 24, 2016

The Easy Way Out

Steven Amsterdam’s third novel follows the model of the first two. Like Things We Didn’t See Coming and What the Family Needed, The Easy Way Out is a realist narrative set in a recognisable world that is skewed only slightly …

Books July 16, 2016

Where the Light Falls

Andrew is an Australian photographer living in Berlin with his girlfriend, Dom. One night he receives an email from his best mate back in Sydney, Stewart, telling him his ex-girlfriend, the ever-troubled Kirsten, has disappeared, her car found abandoned …

Books May 21, 2016

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

One of the clichés of the literary thriller or page-turner is the use of multiple narratives that relate to each other only in oblique ways. The milieu of one of these narratives is usually exotic, the life of a female painter in the Dutch Golden Age …

Books February 20, 2016

The Light on the Water

Olga Lorenzo is a Cuban-born, Melbourne-based writer. Her debut novel, The Rooms in My Mother’s House, is the story of three generations of Cuban women living in a farmhouse outside Miami’s Little Havana. It was longlisted for several literary prizes, …

Books May 23, 2015

The Mothers

Rod Jones’s debut novel, Julia Paradise, was a remarkable success. It was shortlisted for the 1988 Miles Franklin Award, was runner-up for the Prix Femina Étranger in Paris, and was translated into 10 languages. The New York Times

Books March 28, 2015

These Are the Names

In the fictional Eastern European border town of Michailopol, a police commissioner with a cruel streak contemplates his ailing health and the arrangement he has with his housekeeper, who once a month lets him in to her bed. Meanwhile, out on the steppes, …

Books March 07, 2015

Down to the River

The central concern of S. J. Finn’s new novel is the devastating effects of paedophilia. Told from the point of view of a teenager and two local journalists covering the story, it follows the response among the residents of a town in regional Australia …

Books January 24, 2015


On January 1, 1915, the only enemy action to take place on Australian soil during World War I erupted on the outskirts of Broken Hill. That morning, as a full train of open ore wagons departed for the annual Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows …

Books October 25, 2014


Ben Lerner’s debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, was a hilarious and affecting quasi-autobiographical portrait of self-loathing that also brimmed with sensitive, critical responses to art and literature.  To say 10:04 is in …