books

books November 17, 2018

Unsheltered

The novelist, essayist and poet Barbara Kingsolver has been a giant of American literature since her fifth work of fiction, The Poisonwood Bible (1998). It’s an astonishing novel, and astonishingly good – especially in the subtle, engrossing way...

books November 17, 2018

Preservation

The Sydney Cove has the mixed distinction of being among the first ships wrecked on Australia’s east coast; it was on its way from Calcutta to Port Jackson in 1797 when it wrecked on an island – now called Preservation Island – in Bass Strait...

books November 17, 2018

Crimson

Crimson , the debut novel by Niviaq Korneliussen, comes with an unusual preface: a letter welcoming readers to the “secluded and often unknown island” of her birth but also promising “to show another side of Greenland” to that of stereotype. Instead...

books November 10, 2018

Collected Poems

Les Murray has always been a sort of enigmatic double-headed eagle: one profiled eye looking into the past, the other staring into the future. Of course, we know, or think we know, about the backward-looking Murray, the so-called bard of Bunyah with...

books November 10, 2018

All Among the Barley

“Last night I lay awake again, remembering the day the Hunt ran me down in Hulver Wood when I was just a girl.” The tang of foreboding in this novel’s opening line owes something to its echo of “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”...

books November 3, 2018

Evening in Paradise

There’s a scene in Lucia Berlin’s story “Lost in the Louvre” when the narrator discovers a previously missed wing of the gallery. We anticipate some revelations, but instead we get “lovely mundane objects”. There will be no miracles here, Berlin...

books November 3, 2018

The Butcherbird Stories

A. S. Patrić’s The Butcherbird Stories aims to unsettle. Each story plunges the reader into a unique scenario, enhanced by the author’s penchant for beginning in medias res. Further discombobulating the reader, the stories often experiment with...

books November 3, 2018

Two Old Men Dying

Tom Keneally has been at the game of writing novels for a long time now. Although he has always been an uneven writer, the best of his work is made to last. If 50 years ago his Catholic Church novel Three Cheers for the Paraclete – with a hero who...

books October 27, 2018

Killing Commendatore

After Dark , one of Haruki Murakami’s shortest novels, opens in a Denny’s in Tokyo, where the protagonist has come for a late-night snack. The first pages are taken up by a monologue about Denny’s chicken salad, in which he explains that although it...

books October 27, 2018

The Fragments

Toni Jordan’s latest novel, The Fragments , draws together two women living about 50 years apart: Caddie, an avid reader and bookseller, in Joh Bjelke-Petersen-era Brisbane; and Rachel, a Pennsylvania farmgirl, who runs away from a silk factory and...

books October 27, 2018

One Good Turn

Word travelled fast about cartoonist Mary Leunig’s new book. I received a text from a friend before I’d even opened the first page: “Mary Leunig has lost her mind. She hates her kids. She hates her brother. She seems mentally ill. I’m not sure it...