June 2018

Slums The History of a Global Injustice by Alan Mayne

Where Someone Else Lives: Alan Mayne’s Slums

Slums were always removed when they were in the path of the powerful, but slum clearance for its own sake, in pursuit of social improvement, also accelerated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Forest City

Forest City

Meat-Eaters

Abandon Me by Melissa Febos

To Resilience – and Beyond!

If you break, Michael Ondaatje’s speaker advises his daughter in ‘To a Sad Daughter’, ‘break going out, not in’. What if breakage can be a preface to remaking the self and voice?

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The SRB is an initiative of The Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University

May 2018

Essayism by Brian Dillon

A Mole, A Viper, A Toad: Brian Dillon’s Essayism

I am so grateful to have been, at last, the right reader for Essayism. It is Dillon’s life preserver, thrown to himself, and it is joyfully, wonderfully good.

Down the Hume by Peter Polites

Nursing Grievances: Neoliberal Noir in Peter Polites’ Down the Hume

This ambitious re-situating of the noir in the ethnically diverse Australian city, with its complicated stratifications of class and ethnicity, raises the question of what the genre can do for these new contexts. Noir has long offered a space for airing working-class grievances, and for smuggling in queer and feminist subtexts. What, then, does noir do for contemporary Western Sydney, and what can it do for the children of migrants and working-class queers in Australia? Can the genre be re-inhabited in ways that self-consciously expose the grim machinations and effects of new types of economic, psychic and social exclusion while delivering, concurrently, the reading pleasures of mystery and melodrama? It is certainly a lot to pull off.

My Father Didn’t Write That: I Did: on A Woman of the Future

Revisiting A Woman of the Future is not like discovering a prophetic message or a time capsule. It is not like a centrefold pinned up in the garage. It is like being given a good hard shake by the furry hand of Alethea Hunt.

The Book of Dirt by Bram Presser

What Fills the Silence: The Book of Dirt by Bram Presser

The Book of Dirt is both a loving, honest portrayal of lives that would have been erased, and an incorporation of the broader lessons of their experience into contemporary mythology. It keeps the discussion about trauma, memory, and intergenerational acts of transfer alive for those generations that follow, that risk forgetting. It is a potent achievement for a debut novel.

April 2018

Richard Nixon post-truth
Wakuwal-Dream by Peter Botsman

What Stands to Reason: Isabelle Stengers and Peter Botsman

'Reading Another Science is Possible and Wakuwal in succession, I am struck by the thought that Stengers and Botsman have written the same treatise in different languages, and from different places in the human psyche. They issue the same call for a tectonic shift in the cognitive landscape.'