August 2017

Taboo by Kim Scott book cover

Properly Alive: Taboo by Kim Scott

'Taboo is an extraordinary testament to the new energies in Aboriginal storytelling that have emerged since the 1990s, the decade the Mabo decision overturned the legal fiction of terra nullius and recognised Aboriginal land claims in Australian law for the first time. As Scott said in 2012: ‘This is an Aboriginal nation, you know. It’s black country, the continent. Some people are starting to think about: can we graft a contemporary Australian community onto its Indigenous roots?’

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty book cover

Elvis and Jane Austen in Monterey:
Big Little Lies

'Madeline Martha Mackenzie, the central character in Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel Big Little Lies  thinks of Pirriwee, the fictional suburb on Sydney’s northern beaches where she lives, and where the action of the novel takes place, as a "country village". This is a signpost to Jane Austen’s oft-quoted statement "Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on."' 

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

July 2017

Bright Air Black

Medea Redux

'Vann’s Medea is complex, but she isn’t unique. She joins a long tradition of depicting Medea as a wild barbarian princess. Medea is always a double outsider, a woman and a foreigner. Sometimes, as with the suffragettes, her position as a representative of the female gender is stressed and Medea becomes the spokeswoman for all women. Elsewhere, including in Bright Air Black, greater emphasis is placed on her alien status.'

Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien book cover
An uncertain grace by Krissy Kneen book cover

A Fluctuating Charm

'An Uncertain Grace is a strange, daring and clever novel and Kneen’s openness to connections that many other novelists never dream of making is exhilarating. Her characters wreck themselves with sex and science as they seek ways to live with extinctions, inundations and pollution – and yet Kneen is able to salvage optimism from the wreckage. '

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy book cover

Love Gets Slanted

'The novel is a genre in the making, this much we know; it is a crucible for metaphysics as well as history; but its heart, its soul lies in itself and in its capacity to undercut monological points of view. Sadly the undercutting is missing in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and the ideological celebration, the activist impulse, is all one-sided. There is no acknowledgement of a nation desperately trying to hold itself together.'