Articles on Literature

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When superheroes die on the page, fans have learned not to mourn their deaths. FRacco/Wikimedia Commons

Wolverine’s dead! (well, for now)

Among comic book fans, there’s the joke that the only characters in superhero comics who stay dead are Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben, Batman’s parents, and Captain America’s sidekick Bucky. For everybody else…

A Spurr to abandoning the literary canon

Most people had little call to know of University of Sydney poetry professor Barry Spurr until a series of his emails were published by New Matilda. The messages contained racist slurs, misogynistic attitudes…
We don’t seem to be able to shake our cultural status anxiety. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

The Book Club, Flanagan and our endemic cultural cringe

Writing in the Bulletin in January 1899, Henry Lawson complained about the difficulties of making a living as a writer. In this article he offered the emerging author a piece of unvarnished advice: [S]tudy…
This year’s Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Patrick Modiano, a worthy - and noble - winner. EPA/IAN LANGSDON

The Nobel Prize rewards noble writers over literary merit

There is a tendency in academic job applications to refer to the “prestigious x prize (or fellowship)” that a candidate has been awarded. It’s a phrase that turns out to be self-contradictory, since all…
YA fiction. It’s a thing. Get over it. josefnovak33 Little Readers

In defence of children and their literature

This is not the first response to writer and radio presenter Helen Razer’s recent piece on young adult (YA) fiction in the Daily Review, the latest in a trend to either shame adult readers who enjoy the…
Secretary to the Swedish Academy Peter Englund emerges to announce the 2014 Nobel Prize winner. EPA/ANDERS WIKLUND

Fierce battles underly judging for the Nobel Prize in Literature

Yesterday’s decision to confer the Nobel Prize for Literature on revered French novelist Patrick Modiano has sent even the most widely-read English speaking critics scurrying to find copies of his books…
Patrick Modiano has won the Nobel Prize for Literature – with what must be the right kind of transgression. EPA/IAN LANGSDON

Shocking ideas and safe jobs: what makes a Nobel author?

When something is wrong in the world of literature, who better to blame than the writers? Nobel Prize for Literature judge Horace Engdahl said this week, only days before the award was given to French…
David Fincher’s film shows the desolation of failed suburban promises. Twentieth Century Fox

What Gone Girl tells us about American degrowth

The film Gone Girl (2014) is dividing critics along gender lines. Men see it as a gripping, fresh thriller while women have expressed alarm over a range of issues. Chief in recent days is criticism of…
Could a work of fiction constitute a truth commission in its own right? NCinDC

When the war is over, literature can help us make sense of it all

As we’ve marked the centenary of the first world war in 2014, the great poets of that conflict – Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke – have brought the literature of conflict into focus. But…
Three of the five Miles Franklin award nominees for 2013 were women - but female authors are still underrepresented in the review pages. AAP Image/Honner Media, Hamilton Churton

The Stella Count is in – women authors don’t get fair treatment

So, the Stella Count is in for 2013. These are annual statistics collected by the Stella Prize that measure the number of books by women that get reviewed in major publications and the number of books…
Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton has funded a grant to let readers write. EPA/TAL COHEN

Reading as a creative act: Eleanor Catton’s bold new grant

Booker Prize-winner Eleanor Catton announced last week she would use her NZ$15,000 winnings from the New Zealand Post best fiction and people’s choice prizes to set up a new grant for writers, dedicated…
Why do dictatorships make such a compelling backdrop for crime fiction? Dean Ayres/Flickr

Why dictators and detectives are a good match in crime fiction

Dictators dislike detective novels. Both fascist Italy and Nazi Germany outlawed crime fiction in 1941. The crime novel, according to the Italian Ministry of Popular Culture, weakened the health of the…
According to Masha Gessen, Vladimir Putin only thinks six weeks ahead.

Why we underestimate Putin, according to Masha Gessen

Judith Armstrong spoke with Gessen when she was in Melbourne as a guest of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival last week. You can listen to the extended interview here. In her biography of Vladimir Putin…
Social reading in book clubs helps readers make sense of big ideas through personal experience. Susana Fernandez

Book Week is good for kids – and book clubs are great for adults

If my Facebook feed is anything to go by, last month parents scrabbled to make costumes of popular characters from children’s books. They were preparing for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s annual…
Frederick Waddy’s caricature of Anthony Trollope, the man who offended so many Australians with his assessment of our ways. Wikimedia Commons

Celebrity blows: Anthony Trollope and those touchy colonials

The Australian press has long been fascinated by the opinion that visiting celebrities hold about Australia. This obsession was excited by the written observations of Mark Twain, who visited in 1896, and…
Penguin has touched a nerve by issuing a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover with no chocolate. AAP /NEWZULU/SEE LI

We shouldn’t judge Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by its cover

Last week, Penguin released a 50th-anniversary edition of Roald Dahl’s classic novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – to an astonishingly negative reception. Die-hard Dahl fans on Twitter were scathing…

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