December 2019

The Hidden Children:
The White Girl by Tony Birch

‘I don’t think anybody knows how many Aboriginal people made the decision to identify their children as “not Aboriginal” to protect them from discriminatory laws and abuses by government, police, and bureaucracies. The long-term effect of these decisions still need to be unpacked, the ramifications of intentional, parental removal of children from culture are still not properly understood. However, this risk, taking children from culture, from Country, from family to protect them from laws we would no longer tolerate was worth taking – to keep the children with family, to keep them safe.’

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

November 2019

The Many Lives of
Constantine Cavafy:
What’s Left of the Night
by Ersi Sotiropoulos

Sotiropoulos has tried to make the poet fit to the well-rehearsed script for a developing artist, forcing him into a kind of made-to-measure character. This Cavafy wholly unfits both the polemical character we meet in the poems or the introspective creative method by which they were formed. But if there is hope between the lines of this attempt to cleanse and appropriate the poet, it is that the book shows that it can only be done at a stretch.

Taking the Risk: Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith

Invented Lives (2019), Andrea Goldsmith’s eighth novel, explores how and why people construct the lives they live. The novel’s four protagonists come to understand how they have formed the identities they project and how these differ from how they perceive themselves. To invent is derived from the Latin invenire: to find out or discover. By discovering how they have created their identities, Goldsmith’s characters can decide how best to understand themselves.

All is Vanity: The Rich Man’s House by Andrew McGahan

The generic quality of The Rich Man’s House comes to serve a number of purposes. Not the least of these is sheer entertainment value — pun intended. The novel’s premise allows McGahan to play to his strengths as a writer, indulge his factual and descriptive inclinations.

Hope and Carnage:
Tim Corballis and
Brannavan Gnanalingam

’In the New Zealand imagination there are no credible spies because there are no credible threats. We never dreamed that foreign images of mass shootings were being beamed back from a future that would one day be ours.’

Why Would You Doubt Me?:
The Topeka School by Ben Lerner

The Topeka School will be treated as a book of the moment, articulating the distinctive contemporary panic around authenticity, what it means to believe politicians and one another. Most of the responses to this novel will likely speak about its portrayal of toxic masculinity and account of the origins of current political language – the particular way it has become unmoored from truth. Yet what the novel does, through its concern for the present, is show that America has long been anxious about authenticity, and that these problems that seem particularly modern and distinctive are in fact spread wide across cultural and temporal planes, their symptoms and consequences ubiquitous.