Weekend Round-Up 2007 #9

The Age

Three Australian novels are covered in the paper this week: The Widow and Her Hero by Tom Keneally, Chain of Evidence by Garry Disher, and Company by Max Barry. And a good spread it is too.

The Keneally is loosely based on a military action undertaken by Australian special forces against the Japanese in World War II. It deals with those who took part and those who were left behind. James Ley finds that "Keneally's freely fictionalised version is an attempt to marry this dramatic tale of military adventure to sober reflections on the meaning of honour and heroism. In particular, he is interested in exploring the hold these concepts have on the male psyche...The reflective side of the novel emerges from the fact that Keneally has chosen to tell the story primarily from a female perspective." Ley, however, comes to the conclusion that the book is rather too "middle-brow" for him to "muster any great enthusiasm for it". Me, I've never been too fussed about the middle-brow.

Jeff Glorfeld is very impressed with Disher's latest Challis and Destry novel, Chain of Evidence, stating that "this instalment puts Disher up on the world stage among the best in the business at this style of crime fiction." And by style he means police procedural. No more, I have a review of this book to write.

A week or so back, I linked to a profile of Max Barry in "The Age", that indicated he was far better known in the US than in his native country Australia. Maybe that will change now that he's had his latest novel published here by Scribe. Marieke Hardy discovers that "Yes, it's one naive and ethical man's struggle against the bigwigs pushing pens in the exec suites. But even with earnest speeches about workers being more than just machines and so on, Barry manages to keep the tone generally light and humorous."

The Australian

Michael Williams takes a look at Max Barry's novel Company and is also genuinely impressed. "His first two novels, Syrup and Jennifer Government, were tour-de-force corporate satires that found him a cult following (read small but rabid) here and a legion of fans in the US. Why he's not held up as one of Australia's pre-eminent comic novelists is a mystery. He was published overseas first. His novels are resolutely contemporary and international in setting, razor sharp, laugh-out-loud funny and true originals. With Company, he confirms his status as Australia's poet laureate of corporate nonsense and nastiness...This is a romp, a funny, well-written, astute romp. Barry is one of the most talented young Australian novelists you've never heard of. Read him."

The Sydney Morning Herald

Tom Keneally's novel is also reviewed in the SMH this week by Andrew Reimer, who considers it his "best in many years", and "accomplished and highly readable". He concludes that "The Widow and Her Hero reveals a writer who has lost none of the skill and talent he has been demonstrating for decades in a seemingly unending stream of books. In some of his more recent novels, however, Keneally has shown a tendency to rely on mechanical plots and stock characters -- An Angel in Australia is a case in point, I think. In this book he has avoided most of those pitfalls. Even the conceit of a group of prisoners, Leo and his friends, who are facing the prospect of execution, rehearsing a play -- a throwback to Bring Larks and Heroes -- proves to be apt and successfully integrated into the novel's structure."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 19, 2007 5:13 PM.

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