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The Stella Prize longlist announced

The Stella Prize longlist announced

Fiction, debut writers and independent publishers are the emphasis in the longlist announced today for the inaugural Stella Prize, the first major new literary award for women’s writing. The Stella Prize is an exciting new fixture on the awards calendar and is the most high-profile example of what has been, in many ways, a culture […]

<i>Love in the Time of Cholera</i> and won’t somebody please think of the children

Love in the Time of Cholera and won’t somebody please think of the children

When Christopher Bantick’s opinion piece appeared in The Age on Thursday, criticising the inclusion of Gabriel García Márquez’s classic Love in the Time of Cholera on the VCE syllabus, it was easy enough to laugh off as the opinion of a senior Literature teacher demonstrating why they should perhaps retire. The article garnered much attention, […]

The darkness of desire: Chloe Hooper’s <i>The Engagement</i>

The darkness of desire: Chloe Hooper’s The Engagement

Guest Post by Rebecca Howden  From the opening scenes of The Engagement, there’s an atmosphere that drenches the pages with a subtle, simmering sense of dread. Filling her mis-en-scene with gothic tropes that recall the gloomy romance of classics like Rebecca and Jane Eyre, acclaimed Australian writer Chloe Hooper draws us into a tense, brilliantly […]

The world exploding around him: Salman Rushdie’s <i>Joseph Anton</i>

The world exploding around him: Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton

— This review appears in the December edition of ABC’s Limelight magazine. In the opening pages of The Satanic Verses, protagonists Gibreel and Saladin tumble and fall from the sky in a chaos of fire and debris. When the novel was published in late 1988, it too burst forth with an explosion of protests, riots, […]

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On established authors and the weight of expectation: J.K. Rowling’s <i>The Casual Vacancy</i>

On established authors and the weight of expectation: J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy

One of the great pleasures / responsibilities of being a lit critic is that you are asked to review countless debut novels. When I first began reviewing, I remember this feeling unusual to me – coming as I did from a background in academia, where you generally don’t read anything without an almost infuriating knowledge […]

Bad Sex Awards shortlist announced

Bad Sex Awards shortlist announced

If you were on twitter late last night, your feed may have been tantalisingly (and confusingly) peppered with such bon mots as:  ‘She smells of almonds, like a plump Bakewell pudding; and he is the spoon, the whipped cream, the helpless dollop of custard,’ or ‘His body impinged upon hers, and he was stroking her […]

The female protagonist as writer: HBO’s <i>Girls</i>

The female protagonist as writer: HBO’s Girls

Lately I’ve been re-watching Girls. It was a series I originally came to – perhaps like everyone else downloading it in Australia – through the furore raging on most of my favourite US sites. The Hairpin, Salon, Grantland, The New Yorker, et al. had run essays on it, and so I was vaguely familiar with the […]

‘She knows the way people speak around here’: Zadie Smith’s <i>NW</i>

‘She knows the way people speak around here’: Zadie Smith’s NW

Sometimes when I’m looking for a bar or a gallery or some other place in one of Melbourne’s impossible back alleyways, I open up google maps, and once it’s puzzled through the coordinates and found the location I’ll zoom and zoom in upon that orange mark. At some point in its descent, the map becomes, […]

Flightless birds and chance abodes

Flightless birds and chance abodes

By now you’ve no doubt heard that the parent companies of trade publishing houses Penguin Books and Random House – Pearson and Bertelsmann respectively – have combined to form the world’s largest book publisher, which will now be known as Penguin Random House. The official announcement came on Monday, following days of speculation after Peterson […]

On a year of literary prizes

On a year of literary prizes

It’s almost the end of the literary awards season, and the last few weeks have been eventful times for literary prizes. I attended the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, the Melbourne lit scene in suits and cocktail dresses casting off its ‘bathrobe era’ attire (and found just how addicted we all are to our phones when I was […]

Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize for Literature 2012

Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize for Literature 2012

Last night Mo Yan – the author of Red Sorghum, Big Breasts & Wide Hips, and Life And Death Are Wearing Me Out – became the first Chinese national author to win the Nobel Prize for literature in its 111 year history. The Swedish Academy awarded Yan the world’s most prestigious literary honour for his […]

Marked in ink: the Younger Young Writers’ Program

Marked in ink: the Younger Young Writers’ Program

This interview is cross-posted from NYWF where I’m one of the official bloggers this year. When I walk into the launch of the Younger Young Writers’ Journal on the final night of NYWF, the young writers are covered in blue paint, faint blue marks smudged on their cheeks from journals recently printed, the ink not yet […]

An interview with Christian Lander from <i>Stuff White People Like</i>

An interview with Christian Lander from Stuff White People Like

This interview is cross-posted from NYWF where I’m one of the official bloggers this year. It’s easy to doubt yourself when writing to Christian Lander. But it’s only after I send him my interview questions that I realise they’re written in Helvetica and that I’ve just potentially marked myself as hopelessly ‘white person’ too. Lander has […]

eBooks and serendipity machines: an interview with Connor Tomas O’Brien

eBooks and serendipity machines: an interview with Connor Tomas O’Brien

This interview is cross-posted from NYWF where I’m one of the official bloggers this year. There’s a small link at the top of Bkclb’s Infinite Book project which directs to the Wikipedia entry on Borges’ The Book of Sand – a typically curious Borges tale about a book of all books that is ‘exactly infinite’: possessing […]

On literary schools and generational packaging

On literary schools and generational packaging

The beats. The lost generation. The romantics. The modernists. The dirty realists. Before I’d read any of the works that fell within them, I knew of these names. They conjure a time, and often a city, they characterise a period. It made the ‘lesser’ writers within these groups bigger, and gave a higher purpose to […]