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Young adult dystopian characters like Insurgent’s Tris are inspiring their female fans to shatter the glass ceiling. Lionsgate Films

Girls on fire: political empowerment in young adult dystopia

By featuring girls who buck the conventions of their world – and ours – films like Insurgent inspire fans to enact real change.
A long list of commercial success stories has emerged from the self-publishing boom, sometimes with sales in the millions. Nicolas DECOOPMAN

Self-publishing matters – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

It is still stigmatised, still seen as amateur, even as illegitimate, but self-publishing has truly arrived. We ignore it at our peril.
Austen periodically runs afoul of a particular kind of cultural hypocrisy. jamelah e.

Jane Austen is facing death by popularity … and men

Once pivotal to the English canon, Jane Austen has been adapted and readapted for Hollywood and Bollywood – and that kind of popularity comes at a cost.
Adam Smith used parables, morality tales, and canine analogies to explain his theories of economics. Kasper Flörchinger

How cute dogs help us understand Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’

A careful study of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations reveals that its influence lies not in Smith’s ability to construct an argument – but in his skill as teller of tall tales.
A recent book of Brett Whiteley’s drawings reveals his extraordinary talents as a draughtsman. Wendy sleeping (1973). Pen, brush and brown ink. 29.9x33.4 cm. Brett Whiteley Estate © Wendy Whiteley. Beagle Press

Brett Whiteley’s drawings reveal the artist as a master draughtsman

Some 23 years after his death, Australian artist Brett Whitely's vision continues to have resonance and will likely remain a defining representation of late 20th century Australia.
The new waterfront in Australian literature: Parramatta. Lina Hayes/Flickr

The new Australian literary frontier: writing Western Sydney

Despite boasting a population of 2 million people – more than South Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT combined – Western Sydney has, to date, had little impact on the literary pulse…
Reading about the beauty and destruction of the bushfire may help us live alongside it. Jason Verwey

Bushfires are burning bright in Australian letters and life

Historically, bushfires have played an important role in Australian literature, adding a touch of exoticism in fiction written for readers back in Europe, while also offering insights into the dangers…
Harper Lee, pictured circa 1962, has announced a return to the literary world. Wikimedia Commons

To Kill a Mockingbird, My Brilliant Career and long-lost ‘sequels’

By now there can be few people who don’t know Harper Lee’s supposedly long-lost manuscript, Go Set a Watchman, will be published in July. It will be the first book published by Lee since To Kill a Mockingbird…
Literary translation has occurred for centuries (the Bible is a prime example). And with Nobel Prize winners like French author Patrick Modiano, it’s unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Wikimedia Commons

Absorbed in translation: the art – and fun – of literary translation

I recently stumbled upon a post that describes the process of literary translation as “soul-crushing.” That’s news to me, and I’ve been engaged in literary translation for the better part of four decades…
Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, will have a more adult centre of gravity. Chris Burke

Harper Lee’s gamble could undermine her Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, and was voted The Greatest Novel of All Time in a London Daily Telegraph poll of 2008…
Scandinavian cultural exports are showing the world a different mode of representing struggle, crime, and death. edittrix/Flickr

Tying the Knausgaardian knot: struggle, Scandinavian-style

The Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard is the most recent export of a particularly Scandinavian expression of personal struggle. This ethos of resistance to larger socio-political forces, coupled with…
Mandarin icing next year? tycobass

How to make Robert Burns as big as Shakespeare in China

As long as the history of English literature is taught in universities, the charm of the immortal poem “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns will endure in China. I first came across the poem by the national…
Hazem Shammas performs in the stage-adaptation of The Tribe in Sydney Festival. Urban Theatre Projects

Q&A with author of The Tribe: Michael Mohammed Ahmad

This week, as part of Sydney Festival’s Bankstown: Live program, Michael Mohammed Ahmad will present a stage-adaptation of his debut novel. The Tribe, published in 2014, tells the story of three generations…
Claire Wright won the Stella Prize in 2014, the Year of Reading Women Writers, but it’s ok to read her work in 2015. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Enough lists: 2015 is another good year to read books by women

When we waved goodbye to 2014, we also farewelled one of my favourite initiatives – The Year of Reading Women. After reading Joanna Russ’ 1983 book How to Suppress Women’s Writing in December 2012, author…
Bush balladeers celebrate the district, its identities and their adventures. Oceana/Flickr

Australian bush ballads keep galloping on

When Brian the farmer finished his poem the crowd went wild. Small wonder he earned the People’s Choice Award on the night. We were at a so-called poetry “slam” at a country hall in a place so tiny it…
Why do our discussions of creative genius so often confine the conversation to male writers such as Jonathan Franzen? AAP Image/Harper Collins

Genius – still a country for white, middle class, heterosexual men

I recently watched Salinger (2013), the documentary about the late American writer J.D. Salinger, famous recluse and author of The Catcher in the Rye. In it, the word “genius” was bandied about often and…
Award-winning French author Michel Houellebecq is no stranger to controversy. kojoku/Shutterstock

Paris attack brings focus to French author Michel Houellebecq

When gunmen (thought to be radicalized Muslims) burst into the offices of Charlie Hebdo on the morning of January 7, the front page of the satirical newspaper’s most recent edition featured a caricature…

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