Sophia Barnes portrait

Sophia Barnes

Sophia Barnes is an editor and writer living in Sydney.


About Sophia Barnes

Sophia Barnes is an editor and writer living in Sydney. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Sydney. Her essays appear in the Sydney Review of BooksThe Conversation and the Australian Book Review. Her research has been published in the collections Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook After Fifty and Doris Lessing and the Forming of History. Her short fiction has appeared in Kill Your Darlings, Seizure Online, Wet Ink Magazine, Inktears and the collection Stories of SydneyShe is co-editor of Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge’s The Blue Spill: A Manuscript Critical Edition.


Articles about Sophia Barnes

Articles by Sophia Barnes

In the Breech: Sofie Laguna’s The Choke

'Sofie Laguna was a successful writer of children’s and YA fiction before publishing her first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, in 2008. Readers of that startling debut, or of her 2015 Miles Franklin Award winner The Eye of the Sheep, will find many familiar themes in her latest novel The Choke. Each is concerned with the struggle of a vulnerable child to define and to protect him- or herself in a grown-up world; each an astute, affecting exploration of the particular pressures that parental neglect and violence place on the children who observe and absorb it.'

Alfred and Emily by Doris Lessing book cover

Two Lives: Alfred and Emily
by Doris Lessing

'If, for much of our lives, we regard our parents as indispensable to ourselves, defined and understood by their relationship to us – whether loving or fractious, distant or close – then this last work is Lessing’s gift to hers: a belated acknowledgement of Alfred and Emily as individuals, separate from her and from one another. She offers them a world without the war; without each other; perhaps most intriguingly, without their daughter – and by extension, without their author.'

After the Carnage by Tara June Winch Cover

The Bleeding Edge: new short fiction

The short story is sometimes viewed as an apprentice form, yet the heterogeneity of the stories collected in these volumes attests to its adaptability in structure, style, voice and genre – and to the particular freedoms it offers as a site for experimentation.

Kirsten Tranter Hold cover

Something Beyond The Natural: Hold by Kirsten Tranter

'Tranter is an assured writer. Her prose is both absorbing and easy to read; polished and careful, but not dense. She displays fine control of pace in this quiet, elegant story, the rhythms of her sentences shifting with the muted, restless energy of her grieving protagonist. There is a strong sense of the tactile, and Shelley’s days come to life in those incidental observations and sensations which conjure a domestic world; the particular energy of a house in which one is alone.'

What To Leave Out

Two memoirs, one fiction? Or one family history, two fictions entwined into a single narrative, and a ‘reflection on the arc of a life’? All three of these books show women writing themselves into being, as they construct narrative from the raw materials of unwieldy lives, whether imagined or real. Each writes and rewrites sensation, tactile detail, exchange or confrontation, revising and rediscovering through the process. Sophia Barnes on new work by Drusilla Modjeska, Debra Adelaide and Beth Yahp

Restless Fictions

‘The mantle of emerging author can be a heavy one, particularly for those whose work has already garnered critical acclaim at manuscript stage. While these three share the advantage such attention brings them in what is a busy marketplace for new writers, their work displays a marked diversity of theme and form.’ Sophia Barnes on new books by Miles Allinson, Murray Middleton, and Cass Moriarty.

Formed and tested

At the centre of each of these narratives – nine short stories and three novels – is a woman or a girl. Some are empathetic, others cruelly selfish; some are extroverts and others aloof; some are acerbically witty and others dangerously naive. Despite their diversity and their different locations in history, place and time of life, most of them are far more resilient than they perceive themselves to be.

An Elegant Young Man by Luke Carman cover

Beat Poet Kool-Aid: An Elegant Young Man by Luke Carman

The decision to write in a semi-autobiographical style raises inevitable questions. Is this fiction or autobiography? To what degree can we speak of the narrator ‘Luke Carman’ as a ‘character’ in the author Luke Carman’s collection of vignettes?

And, and, and

‘So why write novels?’ Doris Lessing asks in the preface she affixed to her most famous work, The Golden Notebook, almost ten years after its first publication in 1962. Her semi-rhetorical question stemmed from a conviction that within another ten years the world as she knew it would be swept away.