Australian Fiction

September 2019

Nervous Nostalgia

The two authors acknowledge tales of real displaced people, including refugees, as inspiration for their fictional stories. They express gratitude to be able to survive, live and write these books. In their narratives, the quieter moments of survival are most striking: how tasks considered mundane become crucial and inescapable. Robinson and Bishop invite their reader to imagine their own displacement, their own losses and even their own end.

The Other Way, The Other Truth, The Other Life: Simpson Returns

When we are faced with a world whose problems all seem ‘wicked’ and intractable, what is it that fiction can do? Isn’t it always more useful to confront real instances of the problems we face through journalism, political essays and opinion pieces, or non-fictional representations of lived experiences of all kinds? Won’t those kinds of non-fictional intervention be more useful? At the very least if one is to attempt to engage with these things via fiction shouldn’t the mode the writer uses be sombre realism? Isn’t the mode of satire, which derives its impact in large part through humour (however dark), simply disrespectful of the enormity of suffering that is being experienced? Isn’t it inconsequential in relation to how actual problems might actually be solved?

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

August 2019

Whatever Could Have Happened?
John Hughes’ No One

‘What No One evidences is that a story can be told by other means, and that the question of how we narrate the traumas of the past need not be reduced to a choice between silence or speech. Abjuring both of these position, it embodies another form of storytelling that draws on the communicative potential of whispers and the intimations of sounds that inhabit our unconscious lives like strangers buried deep within.’