books May 30, 2020

The Dragons and the Snakes

David Kilcullen is the former Australian army officer who was seconded to the surge force in Iraq at the special request of then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in lieu of people of much higher rank, and he is brilliant. His Quarterly Essay...

books May 30, 2020

A Theatre for Dreamers

A Theatre for Dreamers , Polly Samson’s third novel, is pages and pages of rapturous fantasy of summer days on a small Greek island at the start of the 1960s. Dazzling sunlight, nude swims in the blue sea, midnight hikes while wrapped in blankets...

books May 30, 2020


It seems hard to believe that Ellen van Neerven’s debut poetry book, Comfort Food , was only published in 2016, given the remarkable evolution we see in Throat , the second collection from the young Mununjali Yugambeh poet. While the titles of both...

fiction May 30, 2020

The goddess garden

for Doris Lessing I have been walking on the weekends to visit the goddess garden. Sometimes I wish that all life expected of me was one walk each day, to admire the things that grow without our encouragement. I wish that once my walk was over, I...

theatre May 30, 2020

Young Vic’s A Streetcar Named Desire

The Young Vic’s 2014 production of A Streetcar Named Desire, recently rebroadcast during the Covid-19 lockdown, reminds this viewer of the work’s power but also of the test of matching the smouldering energy of Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh.

music May 30, 2020

Singer-songwriter Gordi

Since releasing her first album, Gordi has experienced three years of emotional upheaval, which she has channelled into a new record, Our Two Skins. She speaks to Nick Buckley about losing her grandmother, falling in love over the phone and creating music in self-enforced isolation. “That’s when I feel most creative, when I don’t have everything at my disposal. You know, how I might make one sound if I don’t have that thing. It’s like creating unique moments out of nothing.”

books May 23, 2020

Hurricane Season

Fernanda Melchor is a young Mexican novelist and journalist whose work has been generating some excitement. The award-winning Hurricane Season is her second novel but the first to be translated into English (superbly by Sophie Hughes). Presenting a...

books May 23, 2020


Has a whimsical conceit ever been inflated to such mammoth proportions? In his third novel, Australian writer Chris Flynn proposes that the remains of once-living creatures acquire a special sentience after they’ve been disinterred. They can observe...

books 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...

fiction May 23, 2020

I will not be taking questions

Is this their final offer? Was that the best you could get? You’ve had it all thoroughly looked over as I asked? There’s not going to be another round of discussions? Isn’t there some factor that we haven’t yet considered? Could we maybe have a bit...

theatre May 23, 2020

Griffin Theatre Company artistic director Declan Greene

Four weeks after becoming the artistic director of Sydney’s Griffin Theatre Company, Declan Greene had to cancel two plays because of Covid-19. He speaks about this extraordinary challenge, his childhood flair for drama and his ambitions for the company. “I’m constantly thinking I should do more to change things in the world … I’m interested in reconfiguring the space I work in to make it a more equal place.”