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Analysis and Comment (36)

Nick Cater’s shortlisted work, The Lucky Culture, is one of several non-fiction options. AAP /Dean Lewins

The curious case of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

This year’s cultural debates about the constitution of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards judging panels are now giving way to consideration of the shortlists and their relative worth. Even as these…
The Robert Farquharson case raised questions about male violence that go unanswered. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Garner’s This House of Grief ducks some hard questions

Helen Garner isn’t usually thought of as a crime writer, but some of her best-known prose has been on law-breaking. She won the prestigious Walkley Award for her 1993 Time Magazine article on the murder…
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…
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…
What renders this work a classic, a book that every Australian should read? Palo

The case for The Commandant by Jessica Anderson

“We knew it in words, yet kept it secret,” says Frances, the young sister-in-law of Patrick Logan, the eponymous – and notoriously cruel – commandant of Moreton Bay penal colony in Jessica Anderson’s ground-breaking…
Can literary works play a productive part in the process of reconciliation? butupa

The case for Gail Jones’ Sorry

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology…
All serious writers should take their own work, and the efforts of others, seriously. photosteve101

Book reviewing is an art, in its own way

There should be no hard and fast rules concerning book reviewing. That’s because reviewing constitutes a worthy genre in its own right, one that should not be limited by guidelines or mandates. Criticism…
David Malouf’s Imaginary Life plays out in the hillsides of the Black Sea. What’s so Australian about that? Hans Juul Hansen

The case for David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life

… further from the far, safe place where I began, the green lands of my father’s farm, further from the last inhabited outpost of the known world, further from speech even, into the sighing grasslands…
Let’s not underestimate the intellectual goodwill that sustains our literary culture. Antoine Robiez

In defence of book reviewers in Australia

Book reviewers and the editors of periodicals that commission them are used to sour assessments of their worth, but Professor John Dale’s article on The Conversation yesterday is in a class of its own…
A Million Windows asks a good deal of its readers, requiring us to piece together elements through patterns of connections rather than through a clear narrative line. runmonty

A look through A Million Windows by Gerald Murnane

Gerald Murnane’s most recent novel, A Million Windows, might be read as a meditation on the relation between sound and silence. At the heart of the novel, though only revealed at the end, is a secret that…
What is lost and gained when book reviewers remain faceless? Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, laughingsquid.com

Anonymous book reviews don’t foster our literary culture

The Saturday Paper publishes anonymous book reviews and, occasionally, reviews by identified critics. That anonymity was a much-discussed feature when the paper launched in March, and the debate continues…
Popular fiction and artistic merit are often considered mutually exclusive – not here. chiaralily

The case for Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore

Crime novel covers are often plastered with endorsements: “A terrific read,” “A real page-turner,” or “Author Y is the next Author X.” It’s far less common to read quotes such as the following from Fairfax…
A deeply moving novel about loss, grief and an unconventional coming of wisdom. yaruman5

The case for Randolph Stow’s To the Islands

Randolph Stow’s To the Islands (1958) is an astonishing novel, a work of poetic skill and political subtlety – and one that is rarely mentioned today. Its omission from Australian literary syllabuses and…
Hardback, paperback … it’s always good to read between the lines. Dave Sag

Cover story: why are books so expensive in Australia?

Five years ago, in the midst of the rancorous parallel importation debate the Productivity Commission undertook a thorough examination of book prices in Australia compared to comparable prices in the US…
For James, the reasons for putting pen to paper haven’t changed. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Clive James on death, dragons and writing in the home stretch

Death is a funny thing. It creeps up on us all, or surprises us if we are unlucky (or lucky, depending on the circumstances). For a writer, especially a self-confessed solipsist such as Clive James, the…
A sense of unease that comes with visiting the past is palpable in several of the works on show. Anna Carey, Costa Vista 2014, giclée print mounted on aluminium, Museum of Brisbane

David Malouf and Friends explores tricks of memory and place

Last year I re-read Johnno, David Malouf’s 1975 novel, with a group of students. I was intrigued to find out how young men and women living in Brisbane today would relate to a novel that has cast such…
David Ireland’s 1976 novel The Glass Canoe leads its readers into the world of a dying tribe of drinkers. matthewwu88

The case for David Ireland’s The Glass Canoe

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…
The London Underground provides the setting for Capital. Chris Jones

The case for Capital, Volume One by Anthony Macris

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…
Why was this novel, completed in 1971, withdrawn from publication at the last moment? scrappy annie

Review: In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower

It is nearly 50 years since Australian writer Elizabeth Harrower’s previous novel The Watch Tower appeared. Why, after producing four novels between 1957 and 1966, did she stop writing? Or at least stop…
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". 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…
The most magical moment of Matilda’s life is when she meets Feather, a wild bird-man whom she loves with all her heart. Alfonso Jimenez

The case for The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett

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…
Johnny Warren argued that no other sport reflects life the way football does. Dan Himbrechts/AAP Image

The case for Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters by Johnny Warren

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…
“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…
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…
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…
A brother and sister must face the world alone in Tony Birch’s Blood. blank array

Flaws in the glass and the ties that bind: Tony Birch’s Blood

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…
Funder’s tale of the Third Reich is a hot favourite for the Miles Franklin. fdtate

Powers we pretend to understand: Anna Funder’s All That I Am

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…
Cold Light places its heroine in 1950s Canberra. Michael Dawes

Bringing Edith home: Frank Moorhouse’s Cold Light

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…
Mear’s novel is “a love story about horses as much as anything else”. Eduardo Amorim

Art imitating life in the outback: Gillian Mears' Foal’s Bread

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…
David Herbert Lawrence dived deep into the psychology of the Australian landscape in Kangaroo. Flickr/Duncan~

Writing the Australian bush: DH Lawrence’s wildflowers

Welcome to the first essay in our series on how the Australian landscape has been described in literature. We start with an internationally recognised D. H. Lawrence scholar, Christopher Pollnitz, writing…

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