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She grew up in a Christian family in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, but at the age of 19 SUSAN CARLAND converted to Islam. Now a sociologist and lecturer at Monash University, she is also married to Gold Logie winner Waleed Aly. In her new book, Fighting Hislam: Women, faith and sexism, she interviews Muslim women about how they are counteracting sexism within Islam and are working to forge a fairer future for Islamic women. We asked Susan to tell us about the books that have shaped her worldview.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • If you set out to write a thriller, you’re going to have to do some research. And while your story will be fiction, you’ll probably uncover more than a few fascinating real-world facts, as Australian thriller author L A LARKIN discovered while researching for her latest novel, Devour. Read on >
  • From an investigation into the scandals of the Catholic Church by Tom Keneally to Jeffrey Archer’s thrilling last instalment in the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ series or a tale of a shrewd female locksmith in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, these books will delight you over the long, languid days of summer. Read on >
  • Church attendance has been plummeting for decades, yet enrolments for church-based schools are soaring. Nearly all non-churchgoers say that they like having a church in their suburb – although they never go inside it. Leading social researcher HUGH MACKAY takes a look at our contradictory attitudes to religion in his new book, Beyond Belief. In this article, Hugh recounts a part of his own spiritual journey and how he came to write the book. Read on >
  • Who would have thought that in the largely homogeneous country of China that there could be a group of people who could trace their lineage back to invading Romans? TONY GREY uncovered this intriguing bit of information while travelling in China, and here he tells how he came to write his historical novel, The Tortoise in Asia, which tells the story of Romans travelling along the Silk Road in ancient times. Read on >
  • UK journalist and editor MARINA BENJAMIN looks at the joys, losses and opportunities of middle age in her new book, The Middlepause. In this extract she writes about the secret misogynistic history of HRT.   Read on >
  • Adelaide writer STEPHEN 
ORR, whose book The Hands
 was longlisted for the 2016 
Miles Franklin Award, likes to
travel the world inspecting
 sites of literary interest – when 
he’s not writing about cattle 
stations and small towns. Here 
he recounts a recent journey to
 the British Isles and Germany on 
which he visited the homes and
 haunts of some of the world’s best known authors. Read on >
  • GEORGIA BLAIN is a novelist and journalist who lives in Sydney. Her first novel, Closed for Winter, was adapted into movie in 2009. LEONIE DYER asked Georgia about her latest novel, Between a Wolf and a Dog. 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 >
  • It’s often said that whatever happens in our childhoods resonates throughout the rest of our lives – for good or for ill. This was certainly the case for TIM ELLIOTT, who grew up with a father who suffered from bipolar disorder. TIM GRAHAM spoke to him about the lingering effects of a tumultuous childhood and his memoir ofpaternal madness, Farewell to the Father. Read on >
  • The changing moral code and shift in gender roes of World War II provide the backdrop for JENNIFER RYAN's debut novel The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN about the people and events that inspired the story. Read on >
  • Recent research has revealed the astonishing capabilities of dogs. We know that they can help vision- impaired people, but they can also sniff out cancer and even help to locate missing people. CAT WARREN in What the Dog Knows recounts how she adopted an unruly German shepherd puppy, Solo, who is eventually trained to locate human corpses. 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 >

See all Book Reviews for this Issue