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Anchor Point is a vehicle for Alice Robinson’s concerns about climate change and the world our children will inherit. Droughts and bushfires are metaphors for the loneliness, confusion and grief that lie in relationships that have gone awry, but there is also a visible love and respect for the Australian landscape in all its changes and this novel contains remarkably observant landscape writing.
Making the spiritual quest of a self-absorbed, discontented, often smug and self-important man feel relevant and interesting to readers is a big task, but Amanda Lohrey engages from the outset. The result is a moving, challenging and ultimately unsettling novel, which uses one man’s search for meaning to ask big questions about how to live.
A Guide to Berlin pays homage to a great writer, Vladimir Nabokov, whose own fiction provides the title, and to Berlin: a city that is a focus of political and architectural wreckage as well as liberation and civilisation. The novel is both an examination and an enactment of storytelling.
Panthers and the Museum of Fire is about a woman returning a manuscript to the sister of its deceased writer. It is immersively written in a stream-of-consciousness style that takes the reader directly into her reflections on life, friendship and, importantly, her own writing.
The Other Side of the World begins in an icy English winter when Charlotte, a painter, and her academic Indian husband Henry move to Western Australia in search of a new, lighter life. Two characters struggle to resolve an impossible contradiction: bound together by affection and need, their destinies ultimately diverge. Stephanie Bishop holds this struggle in perfect equipoise throughout.
The Women’s Pages details two sources of attachment and constraint: maternal and literary. It is a limpid depiction of the relationship between mother and child, seen through an intense preoccupation with literature, and an observant charting of the day-to-day experiences of individual women.
Hope Farm concerns thirteen-year-old Silver, who has spent her life being moved from ashram to ashram and commune to commune by her mother Ishtar. In spite of its darkness, it is written in prose infused with love and wonder for the world.
Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of essays on anorexia, a disorder as disturbing as it is mysterious, even to its own sufferers. Documenting Fiona Wright’s experience from the beginning of her affliction, when she was a student, to her hospitalisation with a life-threateningly extreme version of the illness, the essays display a candour and an intelligence that describe the course of illness with great precision and illuminate the sufferer’s motives and actions over time.
Set on the north coast of NSW in the aftermath of a young girl’s death from cancer, The World Without Us traces the varying effects of grief on the remaining members of her family while emphasising the wider world in which those lives are embedded: a world in which ecological breakdown operates both as metaphor and disturbing fact.
Elizabeth Harrower’s short fiction, gathered for the first time in A Few Days in the Country, is as vibrant today as when it was first published some decades ago. It gathers together a constellation of stories from a variety of sources, and exhibits the unerring skill of one of Australia’s most significant writers.
The ten stories in this collection take the reader through the six bedrooms of teenagers. They are thoughtful, full of understanding about situations and motivations, and almost painfully believable.
“The Natural Way of Things is a novel of – and for – our times, explosive yet written with artful, incisive coolness. It parodies, with steely seriousness, the state of being visible and female in contemporary Western society.”
– 2016 Stella Prize Judges