Book Review: Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier returns to the American Civil War with Varina, a beautiful blend of fiction and history

1906, Saratoga Springs. A man named James Blake enters The Retreat hotel and asks to see Varina Davis. In his hands he holds a blue book, a book that offers a glimpse into his past. He barely remembers Mrs Davis – V – but he wonders if she remembers him, a small black boy rescued in uncertain circumstances and brought into her home. Wife to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, V recollects her past, and what she can of James’, from the early days of a marriage to a man twice her age, through the Civil War she unwillingly found herself at the heart of, to the years afterwards when she left the South and all its pain behind.... Read More | Share it now!

Theatre Review: Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore arrives at the New Theatre (Sydney until May 26)

Padraic’s long been away from his home of Inishmore, fighting with the Irish National Liberation Army. Too mad even for the IRA, he’s built an epic thirst for murder and torture, picking small-time pot dealers and bombing chip shops in his spare time. His father Donny calls to inform him his beloved cat is ill, and racing back to the quiet village, runs on a murderous rampage when the Wee Thomas is in fact found to be dead.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Enter the dangerous world of the South African poaching industry with Tony Park’s Captive

Eager Australian lawyer Kerry Maxwell arrives in South Africa, ready and raring to help veterinarian Graham Baird in his fight against poachers in the country’s national parks. But Baird is not what she expects – he’s drunk, jaded, and, worst of all, he’s behind bars in Mozambique. Baird is responsible for the death of the brother of corrupt politician and poaching kingpin Fidel Costa, and faces a violent form of justice. But when Kerry tries to intervene, the situation only intensifies, throwing the idealistic young professional way in over her head. Kidnapped and betrayed, Kerry faces some hard lessons about the inner workings of the dangerous poaching industry, while Graham is forced to face his own emotional baggage head on, and remind himself why he got involved in the first place.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Miles Franklin Winner A.S. Patric’s follow up, Atlantic Black, is a surreal novel of pre-war Europe

After his novel Black Rock, White City won the 2016 Miles Franklin Literary Award, all eyes were on A.S. Patric. His win was something of a coup for small presses in Australia, and a first Miles Franklin win for publishing house Transit Lounge. Patric had been up against four extremely powerful novels, all written by Australian women, including Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things, which was the favourite to win. His follow up novel, Atlantic Black, which was realised just two years after he took out Australia’s richest and most prestigious literary award, was met with excitement and expectation.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Tom Rachman’s The Italian Teacher is a lyrical look at the true price of art

If there was ever an author who had the ability to paint a picture with his prose it’s Tom Rachman. In his latest novel, The Italian Teacher, Rachman puts together a complex and often lyrical study of a man who has grown up in the shadows of his artist father’s genius. The result is a heart-wrenching examination of modern art and its true costs.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Go beyond the Netflix series with Volker Kutscher’s Babylon Berlin

Berlin, 1929. A car is pulled from the Landwehr Canal with a mutilated corpse at the wheel. Detective Inspector Gereon Rath, newly arrived from Cologne, is on the case, stepping outside his jurisdiction and onto a few toes in the process. His search sends him deep into the seedy underworld of Weimar Berlin, where drug dealers, criminal kingpins, and dirty cops watch his every move. But as a man hiding secrets of his own, how far is Rath willing to go for answers?... Read More | Share it now!

POPSART: Patricia Piccinini’s Curious Affection is a surprisingly emotional experience at GOMA

Recently I had the privilege of an intimate tour of Curious Affection, Patricia Piccinini’s new show that opened on Friday 23rd at GOMAlead by the artist herself. It felt like our small group of rag-tag journalists and media types were transformed into pilgrims being lead by a Sage on a spiritual journey through which could only be described as a very moving insight into not only what is it is to be human but what is the matrix of life.... Read More | Share it now!

Review: Alison’s House is as relevant today as when it was written – perhaps more so (Sydney’s Depot Theatre to 21 April)

David Jeffrey and Nyssa Hamilton, Alison's House. Photo: Katy Green Loughrey

In a society where the literary works of men are frequently performed on the Sydney stage, it was refreshing to see a play by an esteemed female writer grace The Depot Theatre. Inspired by the life and work of American poet Emily Dickinson, Susan Glaspell wrote Alison’s House in the 1930s, creating a world full of secrets and deception.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Åsne Seierstad’s Two Sisters is a compelling blend of investigative journalism and the heart breaking tale of a family torn apart

On October 17th 2013, teenage sisters Ayan and Leila Juma left their Oslo home and headed for Syria. Deeply radicalised and intending to take part in jihad, they had planned the trip in secret for months. But their decision tears the Juma family apart, as parents Sadiq and Sara struggle to come to terms with their loss, while oldest son Ismael begins to question his religion, and how it could drive his sisters into a war zone.... Read More | Share it now!