books May 19, 2018

The Yellow House

Rural misery is a mainstay of Australian fiction, and a genre beloved of (usually city-based) prize committees. It’s unsurprising, then, to find this year’s Vogel winner landing squarely in the category. But when a promising 26-year-old writer...

books May 19, 2018


Flames , a first novel by the Tasmanian Robbie Arnott, begins with a protagonist, Levi McAllister, observing his mother returning from death, her waist trailing a “peacock tail of vegetation” and her head adorned with “cascading fronds of lawn-...

books May 19, 2018


Axiomatic is the fourth work of nonfiction by Maria Tumarkin, one of Australia’s most urgent and necessary writers, but it is the first to keep her accent – the first to fully register the impolitic intensity of her prose and breadth of her world...

books May 12, 2018

To Throw Away Unopened

Viv Albertine’s first memoir, 2014’s Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys was a critically acclaimed award winner. Her second is a more intimate deconstruction of the family forces that shaped her, firstly as an...

books May 12, 2018

On Patrick White

This short book, the third in Black Inc’s “Writers on Writers” series, sees Christos Tsiolkas reviving his love of Patrick White. Tsiolkas acknowledges David Marr’s thorough and acclaimed White biography early on – here he’s writing something...

books May 12, 2018


I debated over whether to address these books’ genesis at the outset, or to treat them on their own terms. Does it undersell them to point out that they started out as elements of a larger whole? But don’t their covers and format signal a link, and...

books May 5, 2018

Miss Ex-Yugoslavia

In 1982, Sofija Stefanovic is born into a stable and peaceful Yugoslavia. Marshal Tito is dead but the guiding principles of Brotherhood and Unity that have held the republic together for 40 years are holding firm. With a doting extended family, and...

books May 5, 2018


When my mind returns to Jessie Cole’s grief memoir Staying , her third book after the novels Darkness on the Edge of Town and Deeper Water , my thoughts flood with a lush green. It returns often, to the secluded Eden in northern New South Wales...

books May 5, 2018

Bohemia Beach

It’s been a long time between drinks for Justine Ettler. Marilyn’s Almost Terminal New York Adventure , Ettler’s previous novel, was released in 1996, and her debut prior to that, The River Ophelia , saw her heralded as a star of ’90s grunge lit...

books May 5, 2018

Writer Carmen Maria Machado

Author Carmen Maria Machado comes at issues through award-winning short stories and probing essays, teasing out truths about gender politics and body image. “The compulsive-reflexive nature of fatphobia is just really deep and I feel that it’s not a thing we talk about a lot … There’s different kinds of fat, there’s the kind of fat that I am, which is, like, bigger than is acceptable but also fits in plus-size clothing, and there’s the kind of fat that means the world is inaccessible to you.”

books April 28, 2018

A Stolen Season

Australia’s contribution to the Second Gulf War has not proved a fertile subject for literary fiction. Of the 75 books nominated for the Miles Franklin Award since 2003 there’s almost nothing about Iraq, Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction...