Book reviews

Life subverts subversion theory

Russell Banks leaves no quarter for comfort in The Darling, yet so controlled is his construction that it is not until the end that the reader allows the full awfulness… Read more

A hero to break your heart

Young Willie Dunne is an innocent abroad when he goes to Belgium with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers to play his part in World War I. Like his compatriots, he is… Read more

Search for justice in the tropics

Queensland Magistrate Cathy McLennan’s Saltwater is a fast-paced, thoughtful, riveting memoir of her early working life in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service in Townsville. McLennan grew up… Read more

Hell hath no fury like
inconvenient women

How convenient it would be for many men who have wooed beautiful young girls to bed if they could dispose of them when their existence became awkward. In Charlotte Wood’s… Read more

A sacrament in the
search for truth

Some of Sebastian Barry’s characters appear in more than one book and so it is with Roseanne, one of the two first-person narrators in The Secret Scripture. We have previously… Read more

Letters tell a tragic tale

A tantalising absence manifests in Miriam Estensen’s The Letters of George and Elizabeth Bass – not the disappearance of George, which is an enduring, tragic mystery, but the lack of… Read more

Four novels explore history

In his 1969 essay, Notes on an Unfinished Novel, the writer John Fowles proposed that Alain Robbe-Grillet’s polemical essay “Pour un nouveau roman” (1963) was “indispensable reading” for writers, “even… Read more

A rumination on guilt

Religion, psychology, law and politics are all concerned with guilt. Literature, too, because guilt is often a by-product of conflict or betrayal or action and they are the staples of… Read more

Collections for wordsmiths

He’s been called the critic’s critic, brilliant and sometimes great, the most-read critic, but the superlatives and exaggerations that have dogged James Wood since he began writing for The Guardian… Read more

Palm Island tragedy examined

The “tall man” appears as an agent of malevolence in Aboriginal stories all over Australia, Chloe Hooper reports in her account of the circumstances surrounding the death of Cameron Doomadgee… Read more