'Like any self-respecting once-upon-a-time story, this one takes place in a world that is both strange and familiar, where the commonplace becomes magical and the most remarkable things are normal. Our hero, Peter, is a young boy who dwells in a snug little bark hut deep in the bush with Crooked Mick, an old bushman and the greatest buckjump rider in all the world.'
'From Armageddon to Ragnarok and the Rapture, humans persist in imagining the end of the world. The religious term is eschatology, and the literary terms are many. Some are jocular (Disaster Porn), or precisely denote a sub-genre (Post-Apocalypse, Solarpunk). Climate change or Anthropocene fiction is the latest variant on the theme, and if we believe our scientists — and woe betide us if we do not — these may be the final words.'
'Now, in The Last London: True Fictions from an Unreal City, Sinclair declares himself done with London as subject. These will be his last dispatches on and from the city which has made his name. The Last London is bracketed at beginning and end with the words of Great Fire of 1666 diarist John Evelyn: ‘London was, but is no more.’ In making this analogy with the disaster that razed seventeenth-century London, Sinclair affirms that twenty-first century London, too, has been destroyed. This time by a crew of gentrifiers, property developers, politicians, hyper-affluent transplants, and the creative classes. '
'What we have entered here is a mise-en-abyme of ekphrasis: the text and images of one book, and the description of a painting in a notebook, all contained within another book, call up a cascade of images for the reader of this novel about art.'
'Although the year in which the novel is set is not specified, it is tempting to view the work’s thematization of dreams in the context of the popular political slogan, ‘the Chinese Dream,’ which Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed in late 2012, declaring that ‘everybody has their own ideal, pursuit, and dream. Today everybody is talking about the Chinese Dream. I believe the greatest dream of the Chinese nation in modern history is the great renewal of the Chinese nation.’ In The Day the Sun Died, Yan Lianke focuses on what may be seen as the nightmarish underbelly of this emphasis on progress. In his novel, dreams are not equated with an optimistic faith in future development, but rather symbolize the way the individual and collective past continues to haunt the present.'
It has at times been distressing to witness the media coverage of Kate and Rozanna Lilley’s story, as the intelligence, courage and nuance of their own accounts are temporarily obscured by blunt angles and agendas, by media interest driven in part by celebrity and the tropes of news, in part by various investments held in culture wars positions. But Kate Lilley writes poetry, and poetry offers a space for subjectivity that is not bound to the implied causality of narrative. Poetry can disrupt, evade, and effloresce.
In the career of a poet, the third and fourth books are usually where a certain maturity of voice and style is reached, and a staking out of key thematic ground is achieved. Chong’s formal mastery, her stanzaic control, the deft handling of lyric form, and the use of understated narrative, qualities evolved from the first two collections, are more fully honed in Painting Red Orchids and Rainforest. In a time when younger poets favour ellipsis and discontinuity, when there prevails a distrust of autobiography and narrative in poetry, Chong has, over a quartet of books, crafted a fragmented narrative of migration and settlement, and made of the lyric form a vehicle for the quest for home and belonging.