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With prize-winning novels under his belt and a day job that involves researching climate change and Indigenous Knowledge Systems, TONY BIRCH is one of Australia’s most important thinkers. His new novel, The White Girl, follows a woman living on the fringes of a rural town in the 1960s who must keep her granddaughter safe from authorities who are removing fairskinned Aboriginal children from their families.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • Kentucky-based writer KAYLA RAE WHITAKER tells gr about her debut novel, The Animators, which follows the turbulent creative partnership between two indie animators in New York City. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Sydney-based novelist LAUREN SAMS, author of She’s Having Her Baby, has worked for magazines such as Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Her new book, Crazy Busy Guilty, reprises the heroine Georgie Henderson, who tries frantically to juggle work and family. We spoke recently with Lauren, who talked about the US election, writer’s block and wacky parenting strategies.  Read on >
  • Born in London, retired doctor TONY ATKINSON spent the first years of his life in a cage dangling out of a window. But he went on to serve the Queen and Winston Churchill during his early career as a footman and waiter, which he recalls in hilarious stories in he memoir, A Prescribed Life. Read on >
  • Serious social issues, including the plight of unwed mothers, domestic violence and the place of women in Australia's history are wrapped up in poignant romace in VICTORIA PURMAN's new novel, The Three Miss Allens. She spekas with MAUREEN EPPEN about the inspiration behind the family saga set on the South Australian coast. Read on >
  • Aristotle said that metaphor consists in giving a thing a name that belongs to something else. Shakespeare used metaphor when he wrote ‘All the world’s a stage’, drawing parallels between the planet and a theatrical performance space so that we might more easily understand what the world is like. Metaphors, by likening one thing to another, help us to understand things, or aspects of them, that might otherwise be difficult to comprehend. In Metaphors Be With You, DR MARDY GROTHE takes a historical look at how metaphors have been used to understand a huge range of topics, from adversity, beauty and curiosity through to love, war and vanity. Read on >
  • The symptoms of boredom, loneliness and heartache can often be alleviated by exposure to a good novel. But poetry can also have a similar healing effect. If you suffer from any of the following undesirable conditions, try these three poetic prescriptions that might just do the trick. Read on >
  • When she was 16, MADELAINE DICKIE went to Denpasar, the capital 
of Bali, on a language exchange program.
 Since then she has been fascinated with Indonesia; she has lived and studied in our northern neighbour for three years and
 she speaks Indonesian fluently. Her first novel, Troppo, tells the story of Penny, an Australian expat who flees from her career- minded boyfriend in Perth to a seemingly carefree 
life of surfing in Indonesia. Madelaine tells us how she came to write the novel. Read on >
  • Read this and the ordinary world disappears,’ says Stephen King of
‘The Passage’ series. ANGUS DALTON talks with bestselling author JUSTIN CRONIN about his post-apocalyptic trilogy, the vampiric creatures he created to end humanity, and the last instalment of the series, The City of Mirrors. 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 >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • I adored this book. The captivating Allegra leads a strong cast of characters. A delightful, uplifting read. Read on >

  • It’s tempting to read this novel in one sitting, as every chapter demands your undivided attention. This account of the protagonist’s dangerous hitchhiking from Alice Springs towards Melbourne on the Stuart Highway is urgent and full of suspense. Lucy the dog is a beguiling character and plays an important part in the narrative. Animal lovers will enjoy her doggy reactions. Read on >

  • It is beautifully written, with Nunez musing on all kinds of topics, particularly about writing, within each chapter as the woman slowly remakes her life, and that of Apollo, while carrying on her work with students, negotiating life in her apartment building that forbids the keeping of pets and recalling conversations with her dead friend. Read on >

  • This short, powerful read escalates gradually with chilling suspense until the final breath-stopping parade. Eggers stirs up my feelings of helplessness in understanding the wars of other nations and their concept of peace. Read on >

  • Odette is a gentle yet fiercely protective woman and a powerful character. Her story of trying to keep her family together in the face of racism – from belittlement, sneers and aggression to the kind that manifests in systematic, government-sanctioned discrimination – is one of heartbreak, courage and hope. Though set in the ’60s, the story in The White Girl remains relevant. Last year it was revealed that since Kevin Rudd’s 2008 apology for the Stolen Generations, the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care has doubled. Indigenous leader Richard Weston said at the time, ‘The system keeps failing Aboriginal families and communities because it is punitive, not supportive.’ The White Girl certainly speaks to that. Read on >

  • This is a wonderful debut from Tabitha Bird. It deals with dark themes – what child Willa is forced to endure is heartbreaking – but this darkness is offset by the beautiful writing, full of evocative images, and an uplifting story about the power of forgiveness, the ability to heal and the magical idea of being able to travel back in time to fix a broken future. The three Willas are wonderful characters, stronger and braver than they believe, and I cheered them on the whole way. Read on >

  • Antonina is a member of the Koryo-saram: a group of Russians of Korean descent that Stalin labelled the ‘Unreliable People’ in the 1920s and exiled en-masse to the furthest reaches of the Soviet Republic, despite whatever services they may have offered the regime. Antonina’s people have been at best, ignored and, at worst, persecuted. Read on >

  • The three stories are presented after the preface and the reader is given the choice to read the stories conventionally, one after the other, or follow the wishes of the Baroness. I chose the Baroness sequence, because duh. And I was absolutely swept away. Read on >

  • A hitchhiker, Gabriel, shows up at the outback police station of Wilbrook in torn clothing stained with sun-dried blood. He says he escaped a killer named Heath, who picked him up from the highway, gave him poisoned water, and strung him up in chains. Heath had gloated to Gabriel that he’d be his 55th murder victim. Read on >

  • Kingdom of the Blind is a cozy crime novel, a tale of love, revenge and tragedy. It’s an accomplished whodunnit with witty dialogue and quirky, eccentric characters. An enjoyable read. Read on >

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