Reviews of Australian Books #67

Donna Rifkind reviews Janette Turner Hospital's latest novel Orpheus Lost, for the "LA Times": "Although she often follows the conventions of modern international conspiracy thrillers, Hospital is as consumed with the cultural past as she is with the topical present. Due Preparations for the Plague ricocheted with echoes of Defoe, Camus and Boccaccio as it chronicled the ongoing political and psychological fallout of an imagined 1987 terrorist hijacking. This reconnaissance into the storehouses of artistic tradition and the trenches of fearful contemporary life is even more expertly accomplished in Orpheus Lost."

If we all keep going on like this Shaun Tan is going to be voted some high political office he is certainly not seeking. "The New York Times" has now starting singing his praises with a review by Gene Luan Yang, who shows some detailed knowledge of his past work: "Tan has been walking the fine line between picture books and graphic novels for years now. The Rabbits (2003), written by John Marsden, has a fight montage that reads like a comic, using panels and captions to advance the action. And The Lost Thing (2004), both written and illustrated by Tan, could also be classified as a graphic novel. Although the story's prose bears almost all the narrative responsibility, the interplay between text and image, and the paneled layouts, foreshadow Tan's eventual headlong leap into the medium of comics. With The Arrival, Tan the graphic novelist has finally arrived....Reading The Arrival feels like paging through a family treasure newly discovered up in the attic. However, the sheer beauty of Tan's artwork sometimes gets in the way of his narrative. His panels, like the best photographs, capture the timelessness of particular moments, which can inadvertently endanger the illusion of time passing that a graphic novelist strives to create. The Arrival would almost rather be looked at than read."

Mireille Juchau, an Australian writer with whom I am not familiar, has her second novel published. On the "PopMatters" website, Ella Mudie looks at Burning In from Giromondo Press, a "remarkable second novel from up and coming Australian writer Mireille Juchau, takes what's admittedly familiar territory, an aspiring antipodean artist moves overseas, and applies a psychological insight so penetrating the novel actually succeeds in illuminating the dilemma in some surprisingly fresh, and by equal turns disturbing, new ways...Her first novel Machines for Feeling drew praise for being freshly imaginative and poetic and Burning In seems consistent with that work. Its themes, though, are in line with those shared by many young Australian artists and writers today. The themes are a feeling of homelessness in the world, which is made even more intense through the experience of travel. This anxiety over belonging and identity is surely a universal experience and can't be claimed as being uniquely Australian. However the geographical isolation of the country does explain why the preoccupation persists, sometimes annoyingly, in so much of the work produced there."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 19, 2007 9:45 PM.

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