Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns

is an Early Career Research member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice.


About Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns is an Early Career Research member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. He has published short fiction, reviews and academic articles. He lives in Adelaide.


Articles about Shannon Burns

Articles by Shannon Burns

The Restorer by Michael Sala book cover

Swaying Ground

'The Restorer is dramatically immersive, thematically confronting and — despite its flaws — moving. Like The Last Thread, it is in large part about difficult reckonings with family histories, and the challenge of wresting back control of a precariously positioned life. Sala highlights what I take to be a core moral of the story insistently, but perhaps good advice is worth repeating. For most readers, the skilful characterisation will outweigh all instances of heavy-handedness. I only hope that in future treatments of similar themes the vile men are friendly-seeming white collar workers who patronise the arts. I hear they exist. After all, what use is a topical novel unless its readers are made to feel uncomfortably close to—and complicit in—the issue it addresses?'

Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O'Neill Cover

The Writers We Deserve

I suspect that, like me, most readers are inclined to approach any new work of fiction that explores the writing life with a kind of wariness verging on dread, but two recent Australian books prove that metafiction can still be stimulating, and that the Künstlerroman is not yet an exhausted literary form.

Rings of Saturn Cover

The Rings of Saturn: A Lasting Chronicle of Mourning

‘Rings of Saturn is not a novel in the standard form; it is part travelogue, part memoir, part essay-meditation and part fiction. It's a riff and an improvisation on found and obsessed-over material, and a close reading of place, territories, time, texts and history.’ Shannon Burns on reading W.G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn – twenty years on.

Gerald Murnane: An Idiot in the Greek Sense

‘The question will arise: did I live this imaginative life because I didn’t find my real life satisfactory? That’s a question that I can’t answer, that no one else can answer. You can’t answer these questions definitively. In some respects I was immensely satisfied by my real life, and yet, by the evidence of my writing, I wasn’t. Some people have terrible lives. I didn’t have a life like that, yet, on the evidence of my writing, my life wasn’t enough for me, and I had to have this other life. There’s no answer to these questions. It’s just a wonderful part of the mystery of being human.’ Gerald Murnane speaks with Shannon Burns

The book of strange new things by Michel Faber cover

What it is to be human

The Book of Strange New Things is immersive, lightly surrealist and carefully plotted. It features well-realised characters and delicately carved sentences. The narration is more restrained and focused than in Faber’s epic bestseller, The Crimson Petal and the White, partly because he employs a single focaliser (his other large novels are multifocal), and partly because the bizarre content of the book requires a consistent point of view to render it coherent and credible.

Monstrous Maternal

For those who happen upon Clarice Lispector’s fiction without the benefit of a critical or biographical introduction, or any sense of the author’s developing international reputation since her death in 1977, the encounter can be as mystifying as it is invigorating.