Non-Fiction

July 2019

Cross-Stitch:
Sam George-Allen and Bri Lee

Both George-Allen and Lee are describing their experiences of realisation, of revelation, of feminist wonderment: that the way our culture has been built relies on the systemic mistrust of women.

Desk Work:
A Novel Idea by Fiona McGregor

The work of a novelist is hard, menial and often dull work. Despite this, the work of a novelist at least cuts against the dominant temporalities of work. Through a queer commitment to craft, and by showing us this process in A Novel Idea, McGregor gets us to think harder about what drudgery means, not only for her and her work, or even artists and cultural workers more generally, but for any life and any work.

Living Things:
City of Trees by Sophie Cunningham

With an incremental power, this collection of essays invites us to be present absolutely to ourselves, our environments, our histories and our world. City of Trees is a deeply ethical and thoughtful call to consciousness, a call to see and feel being in and of the natural world.

Keep up with the SRB

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter

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

June 2019

The Banality of Empire

'Overall, The British in India reads not so much as a successful call for more rigorous public engagement with the nuances of empire’s history as it does a retreat back into the arrogant position of a scholar who has never felt it particularly necessary to justify his interest in the everyday lives and literature of white people (racist or not), to the exclusion of all else. His admonishment for postcolonial scholars to spend “more time in the archives” raises the question of which archives he sees as valuable, given the scarcity of Indian voices in his social history.' 

Arresting Images: World War Noir and The Afterlife of Evidence

'The cover image of World War Noir depicts a male corpse, dramatically contorted, at the bottom of a lift well with an empty liquor bottle by his side. It’s an arresting image, but coming as it does from the late 1930s, documenting a death that could have occurred years earlier or later for any number of reasons, it seems to have been chosen more than anything to get the attention of book buyers. Katherine Biber’s In Crime’s Archive examines such photographic material from a far closer and very different perspective.' 

Going Under:
Robert Macfarlane’s Underland

Underland appears at a moment when the impacts of global warming are making themselves evident in tangible, unnerving, and demonstrable ways. For years, writers, humanities academics, artists and activists considered that the supposed remoteness of climate change was one of the greatest stumbling blocks in terms of conveying and apprehending its urgency... Now though, in an eerily poetic, vital and compelling passage early in the book, Macfarlane is able to create a list of great disturbances and ‘surfacings’.

Exhortations to the Resistance

If we take institutional arrangements for granted, do we notice when they cease to work? Here I mean arrangement such as regular elections, democratic legislatures, independent law courts and a free press, which together form the bedrock of democratic politics. All can continue to function as they ought, while failing to deliver what they should. A hollowed-out version of democracy risks lulling us into a false sense of security about its institutions. Democracy could fail while remaining intact.