Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

If you’ve coming looking for a thorough and comprehensive review of Claire G. Coleman’s debut, Terra Nullius, move along. I, like others, are saying nothing about what happens in this book for fear of spoiling it. Continue reading

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An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen

This book is bananas.

I didn’t ‘like’ it but it’s hard not to be impressed by something that is so incredibly creative and thought-provoking.

But before I go on, it should be noted that Krissy Kneen’s An Uncertain Grace comes with a big bunch of trigger warnings (rape, sex crimes against children, treatment of paedophiles). Continue reading

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

It’s almost impossible to find a review of The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood without the reviewer comparing* it to Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m bucking the trend and here’s why: the central premise of both novels is extraordinary – memorable, mind-bending, frightening, and thoroughly compelling.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale decades ago. I can’t remember any of the fine detail of Atwood’s writing but I do remember the horrifying world in which the characters lived. I’m quite sure that in twenty years time, I will also remember Consilience, the walled community created for The Heart Goes Last. Continue reading

Reading the Stella Prize Shortlist – The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

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Read my review of The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood here.

It’s a book that demands thought and discussion. It’s a book that is current and topical but also serves as a cautionary tale. It’s a book that is skilfully and beautifully written. It’s a book that I couldn’t put down – at the same time, I couldn’t guess where it was heading. It’s a book that I finished and thought “I need to talk to someone immediately about that last page!”.

Basically, it’s a book prize judge’s dream. And for that reason…

Will it win the Stella Prize? Yes. And I said so here and here.

Reading in the danger zone

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Do you start singing a certain Kenny Loggins hit when you hear the words ‘comfort zone’? I do. Even though comfort and danger are pretty much opposites… Anyhoo, my comfort zone is contemporary literature. I don’t stray often but there have been some notable (and excellent) exceptions in the last year or so –

Speculative Fiction Continue reading

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

What the hell did I just read? Yes, I know it was The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips… but… What. The. Actual. Hell? And I mean that in a good way.

“…sign here, 9.00 a.m. Monday, and off she went, employed, regurgitated by the concrete compound out into the receding day.”

This short novel focuses on the newly employed Josephine, whose task it is to enter endless strings of numbers into something known only as the Database. Her oppressive office (room 9997), the faceless bureaucracy and her somewhat strained marriage is set against an eerily cold and impersonal city.

“Every morning the Database awaited her like a living thing, luminous and familiar, alongside stacks of gray files. It was wise to put bureaucrats in windowless offices; had there been a window, September might have taunted her with its high and mighty goldenness.” Continue reading

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

It’s taken me more than two weeks to order my thoughts about Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things and I’m quite sure I’m not finished. It’s a book that demands discussion and debate. It’s a book that prompts reflection. It’s a book that might make you feel angry, as well as uncomfortable. It’s a book that is beautifully written. It’s a book that will still be talked about in ten years time. It’s a bloody good book.

The story centres around two women, Verla and Yolanda, who wake from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property somewhere in rural Australia. There are eight other prisoners and the women soon discover what links them – in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

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1. Seems like everyone in the world except me had an advance copy of Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things. Why?! I was (am) BUSTING to read it. Thankfully it has now been released and I can get stuck in.

2. And while you’re waiting for your copy of The Natural Way of Things, listen to this ace interview. Continue reading