books

books May 21, 2022

Homesickness

Two women meet in a cafe. One asks permission to write the other’s life “while she lives it”. The writer is a compassionate and observant interlocutor. Her subject, Jin, is wary and evasive. Their conversation examines words survivors of violence...

books May 21, 2022

Late Journals

Antigone Kefala, 86, is both a poet and prose writer. She was born in Romania and relocated to Australia in 1959 after living in Greece and New Zealand. Late Journals is the final in a trilogy that began with Summer Visit (2003), followed by Sydney...

books May 21, 2022

Small Things Like These

Great literature is properly immune to spoilers, having at its core an ambiguity of truth sourced directly from the complex and often contradictory essences of life itself. It isn’t enough that something dramatic, or even beautiful, happens in a...

books May 14, 2022

Daisy and Woolf

We all know – or think we know – what happens in Virginia Woolf’s celebrated novel Mrs Dalloway , first published almost a century ago. It concerns a day in the life of a London society hostess as she prepares for and then holds a party in the years...

books May 14, 2022

The Shortest History of India

How does a writer condense 5000 years of Indian history into a single short book without losing themselves in what they’re omitting? India is a fluid tessellation of ethnicities and languages that shift through the blooming of religions, the clash...

books May 14, 2022

The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia

When we recall the British atomic bomb tests in Australia, most of us think of Maralinga, still a byword for imperial indifference to Country and people. Few remember Emu Field – even though, as Elizabeth Tynan shows, the 1953 Totem 1 and Totem 2...

books May 7, 2022

Bedtime Story

The most striking and satisfying feature of Chloe Hooper’s Bedtime Story is its beautiful prose. The writing is rich: rhythmic and atmospheric, with a sharp clarity to its depictions of domestic, family life and the ways in which the sudden...

books May 7, 2022

Here Goes Nothing

When the first glutinous life form took its faltering steps out of the primordial soup and onto dry land, it popped on a metaphorical timer that counted down to humanity evolving enough to worry about the meaning of it all, who’s responsible and...

books May 7, 2022

Open Secrets: Essays on the Writing Life

It’s news to few Australian writers that the gig can be gruelling work. It also doesn’t pay the bills – at least, not consistently. “Most Australian writers don’t get paid much for their work, not by publishers, not by readers, not by the government...

books April 30, 2022

Elizabeth Finch

When Julian Barnes’ novel Flaubert’s Parrot was published almost 40 years ago, you knew that the parameters of literature had changed. For all the quality of this work – which absorbed Flaubert’s writing and equalled him through emulation and...

books April 30, 2022

Jack of Hearts: QX11594

Among the 13,000 Australian prisoners of war forced to slave on the infamous Thailand–Burma “Death Railway” in World War II were 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. One of these – and one of the lucky POWs of any background to make it...