Book Review: Lloyd Jones’ The Cage is an unsettling examination of the lengths we will go to for the truth

Two men, fleeing for their lives, arrive in a small country town. The townspeople, desperate to know where they have come from and what they have seen, assign a group of Trustees to find out more. But as the men prove unable to speak of their trauma, the town’s early hospitality is slowly withdrawn, replaced with suspicion, fear, and appalling cruelties. Confined to a cage in the grounds of the local hotel, the key presumed missing, the strangers cling to the last vestiges of what makes them human, as the Trustees fight harder and harder to wring answers from them.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Award-winning journalist Witold Szabłowski collects oral histories of Eastern Europe in Dancing Bears

For hundreds of years, Bulgarian Gypsies trained bears to perform. In the early 2000’s the practice was outlawed following the fall of communism, and the bears, who had only ever known their human family, were released into a reserve. Even now, years later, the bears still stand on their hind legs to dance whenever they see a human.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Lily Tuck’s Sisters is a searing novella about an insecure second wife

When The Four Tops sang about “Standing in the shadows of love” Lily Tuck’s Sisters wasn’t quite what they had in mind. And yet, this novella by a National Book Award recipient feels like it could use that track as an anthem. This story is a tense piece about a second wife who is obsessed by the imagined presence of her husband’s first wife and the impact it is having on her mind and marriage. The result is a short yet sharp book that packs lots of emotion and intensity into its 156 pages.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Bruce Beresford’s The Best Film I Never Made is a collection of warm, droll and personal essays from one of Australia’s leading directors

“I wanted to make films from time I saw my first films in the mid-1940’s. Unlike my school friends I had no interest in animated films (I still don’t) but was fascinated by narratives with actors. Somehow I realised while still very young, that the key person in all the films was not the leading man or heroine, but the director”.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Claire Aman’s Bird Country is a debut collection with considerable weight

It is rare these days that a complete collection of short stories can sustain a sense of breathless wonder throughout each and every piece included in its pages. In a modern age of mobile phones and social media, short stories present us with an interesting challenge. While they are short enough to cater to our decreasing attention spans, they require us to surrender ourselves completely, and trust in the author’s ability to take us to a place of deep connection with a human moment. They ask us to work at deciphering meaning, to play with language and form, to oftentimes forgo the traditional patterns of narrative. Short stories- good short stories- ask that the reader engage with them on multiple levels. And because of the extra work that is required to appreciate them, all too frequently, the anthology is a genre that gets overlooked. But in the Australian short story scene, exciting things are happening, and I believe that Claire Aman’s debut collection Bird Country is one of them.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is a standout title, but falls flat

There’s something very appealing about translated fiction these days.  Whether it’s because more amazing novels from other languages are being translated than ever before, or whether the quality of those translations is better than it is ever has been is something an expert would need to weigh in on.  I can only comment on my reading experience as an avid reader.... Read More | Share it now!

Book Review: Niccolò Ammaniti’s young survivor Anna tackles starvation, gangs & devastating disease in post-apocalyptic Sicily

Several years ago, a virus came to Sicily. It stalked the adults, picking them off one by one, until all that remained was handful of children. Struggling to protect her younger brother, Astor, Anna knows her days are numbered. When she reaches adolescence, the disease will come for her too. Falling in with a boy named Pietro, who believes a specific pair of sneakers will save his life, and a former fighting dog dubbed Fluffy, Anna and Astor aim for the mainland. There must be adults somewhere, after all. Maybe even adults with a cure for the Red Fever.... Read More | Share it now!