Reviews of Australian Books #52

In "The Guardian", James Buchan runs with the idea that Richard Flanagan's novel, The Unknown Terrorist, is a variant on Heinrich Böll's The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, and thinks he's done a pretty good job of it: "Richard Flanagan, the Tasmanian author of the prize-winning Gould's Book of Fish (2001), acknowledges his debt to Böll but moves the story from West Germany in the 1970s to the Sydney of today in a holy funk about Islamist terrorism. It is a terrific novel, maintained at fever heat but never straying beyond the bounds of the possible or even the likely. Actually, it is more plausible than its model."

In the same newspaper, Nicholas Lezard is quite impressed with Gideon Haigh's new cricket collection Silent Revolutions: Writings on Cricket History. "Of course, many Guardian readers will be familiar with Haigh's work and style. It is the latter that gets people excited about the former. Haigh is, if we want to cram in a cricket metaphor, a master of a certain kind of loop and flight in his sentences...It's a shame that this collection hasn't been able to take on board the latest World Cup and the shocking death of Bob Woolmer. Haigh's previous collection, Game for Anything, had much on corruption that should be required reading for anyone who hopes to get to the bottom of that scandal. This is lighter-hearted, on the whole; but there isn't a single article in here that isn't a joy to read."

Constance Burris loves a good villian, so was looking forward to reading Catherine Jinks's YA novel Evil Genius, and she found she was not disappointed: "Catherine Jinks has a great writing style and I was hooked from the beginning...I highly recommend this book for anyone who remotely liked Harry Potter and especially for anyone who secretly (or not so secretly) dreams of being an evil genius!"

Karen Chisholm has got in early with her review of Janette Turner Hospital's Orpheus Lost, though she might raise some eyebrows by declaring it a crime novel. Anyway, she has some reservations: "Where Orpheus Lost becomes less of an interesting book is in a device that the author uses a lot -- where characters move rapidly from real life events into dreams / dream sequences / imaginings of events. There is certainly a lyrical flavour to these sequences but they also jar within the pace of the general book - driving the reader out of the story. This is likely to make the book less appealing for many readers, and it's a pity because the basic premise is very clever and extremely well executed, the 3 main characters very sympathetic and interesting and the supporting cast well drawn and involving."

Damien, on the weblog "Crime Down Under", is pretty impressed with Michael Rowbotham's latest The Night Ferry:
"The plot itself is an intriguing one dealing with a form of exploitation of women that is not only extremely unusual but also extremely disturbing. The action moves quickly from London across to Amsterdam's red-light district and back again (and, yes, a ferry is involved that travels after dark). It's tightly plotted, the characters are fresh and alive and the story is stingingly relevant." Rowbotham's previous novel Lost, won the 2005 Ned Kelly Award. If this one is as good it will also be in the running for the same award next year.

In "The Epoch Times", Mitchell Jordan finds much to like about Love Without Hope by Rodney Hall: "Those who believe that Australian writing is second-rate need only read Rodney Hall to be quickly persuaded otherwise. The two times winner of the Miles Franklin award has always been praised for the sheer beauty of his work, and his latest, Love Without Hope is no exception...Mr Hall's novel is at once universal and intrinsically Australian, reminiscent of other local writers such as Peter Carey and Sonya Hartnett. The complexity of themes and ideas which Mr Hall explores will prevent Love Without Hope from being completely accessible and enjoyed by the majority, but this is a moving account of life and longing which keeps him at the forefront of Australian writing."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 2, 2007 2:30 PM.

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