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Analysis and Comment (53)

Telling stories for black and white alike involves a difficult negotiation of cultures and contexts. Telling stories for black and white alike involves a difficult negotiation of cultures and contexts. Luke Redmond

The case for Gularabulu by Paddy Roe

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome back to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing…
A family’s fluctuations in fortune impact upon “the dark side of their married life". A family’s fluctuations in fortune impact upon “the dark side of their married life". Amanda Slater

The case for The Fortunes of Richard Mahony by Henry Handel Richardson

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing. See…
Commissaire Maigret is about to spring back into life. Commissaire Maigret is about to spring back into life. FaceMePLS

Inspector Maigret’s return is a case well won for crime fiction

Before Kurt Wallander, before Harry Hole, and before Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, the lone, towering figure of non-Anglo-American detective fiction was Maigret. Appearing in 75 novels and 28…
A Western, set in the south, featuring European gothic – what’s going on? A Western, set in the south, featuring European gothic – what’s going on? Image courtesy of FOXTEL.

True Detective lassos the Yellow King in Hollywood South

This article contains spoilers. Ne raillons pas les fous; leur folie dure plus longtemps que la nôtre … Voila toute la difference. So begins The Repairer of Reputations, the opening story to Robert W Chambers…
Who draws the line on what is and isn’t acceptable for children’s viewing? Who draws the line on what is and isn’t acceptable for children’s viewing? Karen Eliot

Nudity in kids' books is nothing to worry about

What deadly affront would cause a group of conservative booksellers – and a rather attractive golden retriever – to protest by doffing their duds to pose in the buff? The cause was the savaging of a children’s…
Set in the 1890s, this is one of few novels about a girl’s maturation that has come to be understood as a “classic”. Set in the 1890s, this is one of few novels about a girl’s maturation that has come to be understood as a “classic”. State Library of Victoria

The case for Henry Handel Richardson’s The Getting of Wisdom

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing. See…
This sassy new prize may not be so hot. This sassy new prize may not be so hot. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Folio Prize nominations reveal underlying cultural chauvinism

The winner of The Folio Prize is announced on 10 March. This prize may be young, but it has already administered some high profile snubs. Its creation was in itself an implied criticism: founded as a response…
Bryson gives us a comprehensive and rigorous exploration of the Azaria Chamberlain case. Bryson gives us a comprehensive and rigorous exploration of the Azaria Chamberlain case. matthiassiegel

The case for John Bryson’s Evil Angels

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing. See…
Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. AAP Image/Rebecca Le May

Mining for stories: the boom-and-bust mining literature cycle

It is often difficult to ascertain how the location or culture that you live within is perceived by others, but travelling to other parts of Australia or indeed the world as a Western Australian it’s usually…
“Scott’s novel is not in denial of the brutal realities of the colonial process.” “Scott’s novel is not in denial of the brutal realities of the colonial process.” sarah_browning

The case for Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Today, we start an occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing…
Krasnaya Polanya, the site of the Sochi 2014 games, has long been a haunt of Russian artists and intellectuals. Krasnaya Polanya, the site of the Sochi 2014 games, has long been a haunt of Russian artists and intellectuals. EPA/Michael Kappeler

Writing the Caucasus: Sochi and Russia’s literary retreats

Sochi – currently hosting the Winter Olympics – looks like the beach resort it is, situated on the blue waters of the east coast of the Black Sea, and enjoying a sub-tropical climate. There is what looks…
Tomes of war stories. Tomes of war stories. gfpeck

Glory, farce and despair: the many stories of World War I

Anniversaries encourage reflection. Now, 100 years after the start of the Great War, anyone who follows current affairs or reads a newspaper is part of a cultural conversation, a widespread reassessment…
None of these Victorian-era New Zealand women became a Henry Handel Richardson. None of these Victorian-era New Zealand women became a Henry Handel Richardson. Thiophene Guy/Flickr

Why New Zealand has no great 19th-century novel

Historically, geographically, culturally – there are many points of comparison between Australia and its neighbour to the east, New Zealand. But there are notable differences. This week, The Conversation…
The godfather of punk. The godfather of punk. zapdelight

The beat goes on: 100 years of William S Burroughs

When William S Burroughs returned to New York City in 1974, after two decades of peripatetic rambling, dubious pleasure and restless escape, the rising rock poet Patti Smith expressed her deep pleasure…
Plot – above all else – has proven successful for Australian author Reilly. Plot – above all else – has proven successful for Australian author Reilly. Peter Morris/Pan Macmillan.

Improving one’s plot in life: why Matthew Reilly’s books sell

I don’t know whether Australian author Matthew Reilly ever studied Aristotle, but he certainly studied action novels. As the subject of tonight’s Australian Story on ABC, Reilly’s affinity with the Greek…
Filer’s work is based on experiences as a psychiatric nurse. Filer’s work is based on experiences as a psychiatric nurse. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Nathan Filer’s stunning debut wins Costa book award

“I live a Cut & Paste kind of life”. So the narrator of Nathan Filer’s The Shock of the Fall tells us. But in terms of its daring exploration of a life little understood and left in shadow, there is…
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face. Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face. Wikimedia Commons

A Robert Burns is for life, not just for 25 January

On 25 January, people all over the world will congregate to feast upon a spicy sheep’s stomach – but not before they’ve recited a poem in its honour. The occasion is Burns Night, the poem is Robert Burns’s…
However you read them, there are some hot books this summer. However you read them, there are some hot books this summer. Leonard John Matthews

Australian literature and summer – books that sizzle

Summertime and reading always went together in my family. Whether we were sunbathing on hot silky beach sand or cooling off in the back yard under a shady plum tree, our books came too. In those pre-digital…
Writers such as Sheldon are easy to knock – if you haven’t read them. Writers such as Sheldon are easy to knock – if you haven’t read them. rocketlass

Other sides of midnight: what we can learn from Sidney Sheldon

I was somewhere in the middle of Howard Jacobson’s 2010 Man Booker Prize winner The Finkler Question and finding it uncompelling. (Sorry, Howard.) I needed a potboiler pick-me-up stat. What better than…
Australian reading experiences weren’t limited to the pages of printed books – as this screenshot from Christy Dena’s AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS demonstrates. Australian reading experiences weren’t limited to the pages of printed books – as this screenshot from Christy Dena’s AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS demonstrates. Christy Dena/Universe Creation 101

We are our stories: Australian reading experiences in 2013

I spent most of 2013 living overseas and from afar Australia’s beauty and its fault lines came into sharp focus. In my reading I found myself searching for insight, and three Australian stories stood out…
One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. kieri d l h

Welcome to the global boudoir, where sex is so bad it’s gaga

Do you remember how people used to walk about with ghetto blasters, so you could hardly escape the high-volume throb of some visceral drumbeat? Being alive now is like having your head permanently wedged…
What time is it in Europe? Why are we still looking to the north Atlantic for cultural role models? What time is it in Europe? Why are we still looking to the north Atlantic for cultural role models? leoplus

How to read Australia’s literary obsession with the North Atlantic

Last weekend columnist and broadcaster Phillip Adams published a piece in The Australian lamenting what he called the “coca-colonial cringe": Like you I measure my life with American movies, music and…
Hilary Mantel: unprecedented success, but not the whole story. Hilary Mantel: unprecedented success, but not the whole story. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Women’s prizes inspire some and wind others up – perfect

The Costa book awards shortlists have been announced and the one thing that dominates people’s first reactions has been the fact the fiction shortlist is made up entirely of women authors. Is the response…
Football, with its passion, drama and larger-than-life characters, has all the elements for a good literary genre. Football, with its passion, drama and larger-than-life characters, has all the elements for a good literary genre. Boris Roessler/EPA

From stadium to page: why football deserves more fiction

A great football novel is like a perfectly executed bicycle-kick goal, like players such as Argentine legends Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi; they come along once in a generation. Against the accumulated…
Lessing: “intellectually uncompromising”. Lessing: “intellectually uncompromising”. Juan Martin/AAP

Doris Lessing was a radical, in the truest sense

The writer and critic Margaret Drabble recently made an observation that I think is representative of the diverse and prolific career of the British author Doris Lessing, who died last night at 94: She…
Germaine Greer’s acquired work is enough to fill 150 filing drawers. Germaine Greer’s acquired work is enough to fill 150 filing drawers. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Why Germaine Greer’s life in letters is one for the archives

Earlier this week, as you may have read, the University of Melbourne announced it had acquired the archives of a former student, feminist scholar and writer Germaine Greer. The total cost of the archive…
Letters by Australian author Elizabeth Jolley have shed light on her family history. Letters by Australian author Elizabeth Jolley have shed light on her family history. ABC

Fiction and lies: what we learn from Elizabeth Jolley’s love letters

In 2012 Fremantle Arts Centre Press published The House of Fiction, a memoir by Susan Swingler. Last night the ABC’s Australian Story followed up with a program on Swingler and her book. Why all this interest…
Reflected glory. Reflected glory. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Youngest author, longest book, final Commonwealth Booker

New Zealand author Eleanor Catton has become the youngest ever author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for English literature. The 28-year old author won for just her second novel, The Luminaries…
Master of the short story: Alice Munro. Master of the short story: Alice Munro. Julien Behal/PA

Alice Munro Nobel a victory for the neglected short story

The announcement of Alice Munro as 2013’s winner of the Nobel Prize for literature marks the high point in the 82-year old writer’s long career, but also a significant recognition for the form with which…
Seamus Heaney up close with the local environment. Seamus Heaney up close with the local environment. Burns Library, Boston College

Seamus Heaney - the death of a naturalist

The sudden death on Friday of the Irish Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney has focused international minds and media on the power of poetry to affect our lives. This is especially true from an environmental…
Fact meets fiction. Fact meets fiction. Ian S

Tragic realism: the rise of Mexican narcoliterature

Crime fiction has become a truly global genre. Books based in Reykjavik, Oslo, or Barcelona now vie with home-grown works set in more recognisable, down-at-heel locations like Manchester or Northampton…
A proposed sequel to Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are has ended after his publisher sought an injunction, claiming breach of copyright. A proposed sequel to Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are has ended after his publisher sought an injunction, claiming breach of copyright. EPA/Frank Armstrong

Where the wild things aren’t: Sendak sequel stymied by US copyright law

It seems we won’t be checking up on Max and the “Wild Things” any time soon. A campaign on crowdfunding website Kickstarter to fund a sequel to the late Maurice Sendak’s bestselling picture storybook Where…
A graphic novel has been added to the year 12 English curriculum. A graphic novel has been added to the year 12 English curriculum. Graphic novel image from www.shutterstock.com

Teaching graphic novels as literature: The Complete Maus enters the curriculum

Next year, senior students in Victoria will be able to study a graphic novel, The Complete Maus, as part of the prescribed English curriculum. As a literary and artistic form, graphic novels combine the…
Does Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby fail to meet its grandiose expectations? Does Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby fail to meet its grandiose expectations? AAP/Warner Bros

The Great Gatsby: death by glitter or a thought-provoking spectacle?

It’s impossible to see a film with the hype of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby without preconceptions. The build-up to this film has been overwhelming with trailers splashed across screens everywhere…
Literary critical terms and theories have been adopted by education institutions as a way to provoke thought on the relationship between humans and the environment. Literary critical terms and theories have been adopted by education institutions as a way to provoke thought on the relationship between humans and the environment. Thomas Bristow

Ecocriticism: environment, emotions and education

How can art and literature help us imagine a climate-changed world? In 1995, ecocritic Lawrence Buell argued that apocalypse is the single most powerful master metaphor that environmentalism has at its…
Reading from an early age can instill healthy habits for a lifetime. “Possum Magic”, by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas. Reading from an early age can instill healthy habits for a lifetime. “Possum Magic”, by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas. Scholastic

Worth a thousand words: the top 10 best Australian children’s picture books

The academics and the “mummy bloggers” are in furious agreement – reading picture books to children is one of the best things you can do for a child’s development. It also happens to be, in the opinion…
Our obsession with worlds worse than our own says more about our future than we might realise. Our obsession with worlds worse than our own says more about our future than we might realise. x ray delta one

Science fiction and dystopia: what’s the connection?

The future in science fiction is often presented in a dystopian setting. Certainly films such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca and Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men follow this pattern…
Reading the same book can bring students closer together as a group. Reading the same book can bring students closer together as a group. Students reading image from www.shutterstock.com

A journey with The Boat: students connect over a common story

First-year undergraduate students at the University of Melbourne have been invited to participate in a new initiative. “Melbourne Summer Reading” identifies a book which speaks to some of the big issues…
Cosmopolis' adaptation by David Cronenberg (left) is the first time Don DeLillo’s work has hit cinemas. Cosmopolis' adaptation by David Cronenberg (left) is the first time Don DeLillo’s work has hit cinemas. EPA/Joao Relvas

Visions of financial ruin: Cronenberg brings DeLillo’s Cosmopolis to the big screen

New York writer Don DeLillo’s 2003 novella Cosmopolis has been adapted into a blockbuster film by David Cronenberg, to be released in Australia today. The film, with an all-star cast including Robert Pattinson…
Past the Shallows is set on Tasmania’s rugged south coast. Past the Shallows is set on Tasmania’s rugged south coast. bravoechnovember

An iceberg in treacherous waters: Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows

MILES FRANKLIN REVIEW: The winner of the 2012 Miles Franklin Award will be announced this week. In preparation, The Conversation brings you academic reviews of the five novels shortlisted for Australia’s…
After 70 years, Mein Kampf is to be re-printed. After 70 years, Mein Kampf is to be re-printed. Michael Dawes

Is Mein Kampf still too dangerous?

Almost 70 years ago, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery, marking the downfall of one of the most murderous regimes the world has ever seen. Decades later, there is still…
Changing the rules of the Vogel would be like changing the rules of the AFL. Let’s not spoil the theatre. Changing the rules of the Vogel would be like changing the rules of the AFL. Let’s not spoil the theatre. Flickr/Michael Spencer

The theatre of the game: why the Vogel age restriction works

A student in Japan once told me that old age is the best cure for youth. It took me a long time, and a lot more life experience, before I finally figured out what she meant: there is no way to avoid the…
Gunter Grass caused a stir with his anti-Israel poem, but political poetry often misses the mark. Gunter Grass caused a stir with his anti-Israel poem, but political poetry often misses the mark. AAP/Marcus Brandt

Political poetry took down Günter Grass … but is it any good?

The world of political poetry has suffered some significant losses in recent months. Václav Havel, a poet long before he was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic…

End of year report (letter to Hisham)

The following is a poem commissioned by The Conversation from Sydney City Poet, Kate Middleton on the year that was. Did you read about the MARS-500 simulation? Six men in isolation sharing a broken English…
Steve Jobs' desire for an enduring memory of his work led him to engage a biographer. The book has become his obituary. Steve Jobs' desire for an enduring memory of his work led him to engage a biographer. The book has become his obituary. EPA/Britta Pedersen

The power of biography: Why Steve Jobs' legend will live on

Steve Jobs' “official” biography was always going to be a bestseller, with its promise of a candid examination of the inner workings of the world’s most successful salesman and the company he twice built…
aapone file switzerland britain literature julian barnes original. aapone file switzerland britain literature julian barnes original.

Julian Barnes' Sense of an Ending a ‘fine and curious’ short novel

Julian Barnes’ 11th novel represents an interesting choice for the judges of this year’s Booker Prize, and it goes without saying that a prize like this is always going to arouse criticism and even controversy…
It’s fourth time lucky for Julian Barnes in the Booker Prize. It’s fourth time lucky for Julian Barnes in the Booker Prize. EPA/Alessandro Della Bella

Booker victory for Julian Barnes but should the focus be on ‘readability’?

Julian Barnes today won the Man Booker Prize for his novel about a childhood friendship and the fragility of memory, The Sense of an Ending. This is the fourth time he’s been nominated, and Barnes declared…
Thousands of Brits moved to Australia for the thrill of a more glamorous life. But many struggled. Thousands of Brits moved to Australia for the thrill of a more glamorous life. But many struggled. Flickr/MarkFaviellPhotos

A moving history: how personal stories illuminate the past

Published biographies, and indeed many histories, are often about the famous, rich or powerful. And most often, they’re about men. I’ve preferred to research and write about so-called “ordinary” men and…
Kim Scott’s tale of early settler relations has been applauded by the literary community. Kim Scott’s tale of early settler relations has been applauded by the literary community. The Trust Company

Kim Scott leaves competition for dead in all-male Miles Franklin win

Western Australian author Kim Scott won the Miles Franklin Literary Award for the second time last night with his fifth novel, That Deadman Dance. Described by one judge as “post-reconciliation” fiction…

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