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INGA SIMPSON, who has just been longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award for her most recent novel, tells ANGUS DALTON about the influence of trees on her writing and her new eco-memoir, Understory.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • JANINE
 BURKE is an
 Australian
art historian,
author,
biographer,
photographer and
award-winning novelist.
Her latest book, Kiffy Rubbo,
which she has co-edited with Helen Hughes, collects contributions 
from leading figures in the artistic community that all focus on the dynamic figure of Kiffy Rubbo (1944-80), a pioneering curator
in Melbourne in the 1970s. We asked Janine to tell us about this new book and the books that have shaped her life. Read on >
  • Meet the author who won the ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year 2015, and find out about her latest title, The Art of Keeping Secrets. Read on >
  • For many of us, the streets of London or New York are more familiar
than the towns and settlements of the remote north and centre of our own country. But non-Indigenous artist and writer KIM MAHOOD, who spent many years of her childhood on a cattle station amid Indigenous lands, knows these parts of Australia well. In her new book, Position Doubtful, she recounts
 her frequent journeys from her home in Wamboin, near Canberra, back to Indigenous communities in NT and WA. We caught up with Kim in Alice Springs just as she was preparing to head out on a 1000 km road trip. Read on >
  • In the early 1900s, the luminescent properties of radium – a highly radioactive metal – had just been discovered, and entrepreneurs were quick to identify its marketing potential. They flooded supermarket shelves with radium-based products, and thousands of young women in North America were hired to paint clock dials with radium. The girls would go home with their hands aglow, oblivious to the bone-destroying radiation they had been exposed to. We spoke with London-based author KATE MOORE about these workers’ stories, which appear in her new book, The Radium Girls. Read on >
  • SABRINA HAHN has been WA’s go-to dispenser of green-thumb advice to radio listeners for more than 20 years. Now, in Sabrina’s Dirty Deeds, she shows you what to do in your garden and when to do it. In this extract she outlines how to encourage good predatory insects. Read on >
  • ABC journalist and science writer IAN TOWNSEND cut his teeth as a novelist in 2007 with Affection, which told the story of a plague outbreak in 1900. His next novel, The Devil’s Eye, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2009. Now with Line of Fire, he turns his pen to narrative non-fiction to tell the story of Richard Manson, an 11-year-old boy who was accused of espionage and shot by the Japanese during World War II in New Guinea. Read on >
  • AOIFE CLIFFORD is the winner of the Scarlet Stiletto Award for one of her crime stories, but All These Perfect Strangers is her first novel. The Melbourne-based crime novelist talks with us about New Year’s resolutions, her Irish poet grandfather and the similarities between writing a novel and creating a papier-mâché puppet.  Read on >
  • The stories of SUSAN PERABO have been likened to the work of George Saunders and Raymond Carver. Her latest novel, The Fall of Lisa Bellow, kicks off when school student Meredith is kidnapped together with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow. Meredith is set free – but Lisa remains. We asked Susan to tell us about short stories versus novels, her love of baseball and writing advice she has received. Read on >
  • Biographies have long fascinated readers, serving as guides for how to live our own lives or often just giving us an intriguing peek into the world of extraordinary people. In this round-up we look at a comedian with a disability, a magician with a learning disorder, the real man behind Walter White of Breaking Bad and more. But we’re bending the biography rules a bit by also including a book by a philosopher that will prompt you to think about living a better life, a book about Aussies at war and an account of Queensland police leading lives of corruption. Read on >
  • Real-life historical figures and 18th-century court cases dealing with adultery inspired one of two interwoven storylines in The Wife’s Tale, a new novel by Australian author CHRISTINE WELLS. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN how the true events from the past inform her tale of scandal, intrigue, murder – and love.  Read on >
  • It’s 100 years since
 Roald Dahl’s birth on 13 September 1916. For many years now, 13 September has been celebrated as Roald Dahl Day.  I love all of Roald Dahl’s books. I love the naughty antics his characters get up to in so many of his stories. I love reading about the fascinating life he led – especially his wartime flying exploits – and I really loved how he made the nasty grandmother in George’s Marvellous Medicine just go ‘pop’ and disappear. I think we all have someone in our life we’d like that to happen to occasionally. If you are yet to read his memoirs – Boy and Going Solo – I can’t recommend them highly enough. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • I was hooked from the arresting first page, swept along by the shimmering language and visceral images, and I found myself thinking anew about this ancient tragedy long after I finished the book. Bright Air Black is a powerful and rewarding read. Read on >

  • A quiet afternoon and a box of tissues are essential for this read. Read on >

  • From the late 1930s to the 1950s, an adoption organisation in Memphis, Tennessee, coerced parents into giving up their children. If that strategy failed, they kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country, often to order. This crime was ignored and even supported by the local authorities, all in the interests of providing these children with a better future. Read on >

  • This quick read touches on many key issues in the news – racism, the PTSD suffered by our returning soldiers, and our political masters’ endless desire to terrorise their own population in order to get votes and accrue even more powers that circumvent basic freedoms. Read on >

  • To call In the Name of the Family a superior bodice ripper would be somewhat facetious because this is a very literary and brilliantly realised work of historical fiction. But Sarah Dunant does have a background in crime novels and a keen interest in fashion, and in this novel some very superior bodices do in fact get ripped – mainly in a metaphorical sense. Read on >

  • This story takes place in the recently invaded Ukraine in 1941. The stories of Yankel, Otto and Yasia at first seem very different from each other, but they gradually intersect in a powerful and moving tale of anticipation, heartache and survival. Read on >

  • This gentle story blends the lives of two families with that of a house in a Brisbane suburb, peeling back layers to reveal the characters’ thoughts and hopes. Read on >

  • This haunting yet ultimately hopeful tale of one family’s attempts to rise from the ashes of tragedy will resonate with anyone familiar with the destructive power of fire and all who are inspired by the spirit of those able to regenerate after desolation. Read on >

  • Down’s prose is sharp and intimate, the characters flawed and achingly familiar. For a book about mourning, it’s not overly sentimental or indulgent. Instead, the characters’ grief is ugly and bewildering. Our Magic Hour is a compelling, authentic portrayal of loss, dislocation and the unsteadiness of young adult life. Read on >

  • Down the Hume is a noir thriller, but the increasing suspense and the plot twist isn’t what kept the pages turning. It’s the thrill of reading something so charged and fast that interrogates our national identity through a character with such a distinctive voice. This contemporary story is far more relevant and noteworthy than the nostalgic bush narratives that are considered the epitome of Australian storytelling. Read on >

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