Project: Emerging Critics 2020
Essays by the 2020 CA-SRB Emerging Critics cohort: Keyvan Allahyari, Bryan Andy, Katie Dobbs, Cher Tan and Prithvi Varatharajan.
Our Emerging Critics Fellowship Program is generously funded by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.
Emerging Critics 2020
by Ennis Ćehić
Vintage Australia/Penguin Australia
Published March 2022
We might, like Ćehić’s characters, brood on our paralysis by the information economy in its seamless loop of sampling, packaging and delivering our private desires to our doors. But what else can we say besides the obvious cultural diagnosis and the self-affirming circuit of the minimalist style in the age of distractions? Is there a way to argue for a technique that is not about the internet, our lord and saviour, at least not solely?
Vernon Subutex #3
by Virginie Despentes, translated by Frank Wynne
Published June 2020
Turn Off Tune Out Drop Out Sell Out Buy In
Vernon Subutex follows a theme set in earlier books by Despentes: the status quo sucks, but we’re all complicit in it one way or another, regardless of our political leanings, sometimes even in spite of them.
On Beverley Farmer
by Josephine Rowe
Published October 2020
This New Writing
Rowe brings remarkable discernment as she notices what Farmer notices, abstract and concrete – death, insect morphology, marine life – all ‘egalitarian in the designation of worthiness.’ She does so with deference to Farmer’s intense lyricism and with appropriate essayistic economy.
The Inland Sea
by Madeleine Watts
Published March 2020
The Inland Sea is an omnivorous, heady debut dense with paradox and provocation. With no pretensions to lighting the way out of our current mess, Watts guides us into the thicket, leaves us in an anxious twilight between the material and the figurative.
Revenge: Murder in Three Parts
by S.L. Lim
Published September 2020
Living with the Anthropocene: Love, Loss and Hope in the Face of Environmental Crisis
by Cameron Muir, Kirsten Wehner, Jenny Newell (eds.)
Published October 2020
Archives of Loss
Reading the losses arrayed in this anthology to write this review – even as they were tempered by expressions of joy or hope at ecological resilience, or calls for action – I felt somewhat overwhelmed. In that state, I recalled the classic Freudian account of melancholy as a mourning of loss that becomes pathological, because it is perpetual.
Elephants with Headlights
by Bem Le Hunte
Published March 2019
Nirvana at the Consulting Company
The reliance on marriage to broker socio-economic advancement is as old as the history of the novel. In its rudimentary form, the dénouement of the ‘wedding novel’ loosens up the existing social structures to accommodate a more integrated bourgeoisie, often achieved by betraying the aspirations of well-heeled parents. Elephants with Headlights sublimates this trope with an esoteric convolution of destinies of its characters, in this world and their current and upcoming reincarnations.
There Was Still Love
by Favel Parrett
Published September 2019
Coming in from the Cold
‘Childhood is long and narrow like a coffin, and you can’t get out of it on your own,’ Tove Ditlevsen wrote in Childhood (1967), the first volume in her autobiographical trilogy, an account of a lonely, impoverished Copenhagen upbringing. It’s a grim assessment, one that I returned to as I immersed myself in the world of Favel Parrett’s fiction. Across three novels, the Australian author’s concern has been the vulnerability of children, dependent upon the mercy of adults as they navigate an inscrutable, forbidding world.
by Peter Polites
Published July 2019
Good Migrant/Bad Migrant
In both Down The Hume and The Pillars, there are none of those happy endings that cheerfully bridge the challenges of multicultural existence. Characters from down-and-out circumstances don’t eventually triumph over their difficulties. Instead, by portraying characters who don’t represent easy moral positions, Polites’ work annihilates the assimilationist fantasy of ‘togetherness’ that is so often parroted in liberal discourse, and the fallacy that disenfranchised people are automatically ‘good’ or innocent.
Displaced: A Rural Life
by John Kinsella
Published March 2020
Wrong is Wrong
There are a lot of memorable episodes and images in Displaced. But memorability isn’t enough, in my mind, for a memoir to stand out. Something that can elevate a memoir beyond an account of lived experience (however skilfully told), and help it flourish as literature, is when it evokes and explores the mechanics of memory: when the story is built on how remembering through writing works. Kinsella is conscious of this possibility of memoir.