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Working with Words: Mireille Juchau
Mireille Juchau is a novelist, essayist and teacher of literature. Her third novel, The World Without Us, won the 2016 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction. Mireille spoke with us about bad advice, literary heroes and her years in smoky newsrooms
Books and Ideas at Montalto
Set in a rural farming community, Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, is a tightly-spun and suspenseful thriller. It tells the story of a Federal Police investigator who returns to his hometown after two decades of urban exile – tasked with examining the apparent murder-suicide of his childhood friend’s family. As he works his way through the drought-stricken settlement…
Picnic at Hanging Rock
‘She felt herself choking and tore at her frilled lace collar. “Miranda!”’
Fainting spells, frilly collars, mystery, hysteria and a truly awesome backdrop – Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock might be 50 years old this year, but it remains a point of Australian cultural obsession. The book – written by Lindsay in just four weeks back in 1967 –…
Reek Between the Lines
Liam Pieper discusses the power of smell and great works of literature that stink to high heaven.
Madeleine Thien: Displacement and Defiance
'I do not find the increased heft of China and its role in the world surprising. I do find the speed of the decline of America surprising.'
Madeleine Thien is an author continually drawn to themes of displacement, individual expression and revolution. Thien is Canadian and of Chinese-Malaysian descent and she’s dramatised the traumatic upheavals of 20th-century Asian history in some extraordinary works of fiction.
Toni Jordan and Madeleine Thien
Her 2011 book, Dogs at the Perimeter, was set in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, while her most recent work, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, explores the profound, abiding impact of the Cultural Revolution in China. The latter novel, shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker prize, tells the story of two musical families in China, from the 1940s through the Tiananmen Square protests to the present day. The work draws in surprising, exquisite ways on Western classical music and turns on themes of artistic and individual defiance and frailty in Mao’s China.
In a considered, contemplative conversation with author (and Chinese history buff) Toni Jordan, Thien talks about political upheaval and the artistic imagination.
American Misadventure with Nathan Hill
Critics have likened him to John Irving; Irving has likened him to Charles Dickens; and Dickens, though very much dead, might have appreciated the humour, heart and panoramic scope of his work. Nathan Hill is the American writer of the moment.
His debut novel, The Nix, is a sprawling, postmodern social satire that skewers contemporary American politics, media and academia. In 2016, it made Hill a star; publication rights of the book have sold in 16 countries, amid some furious bidding wars. The book is remarkably of its time – featuring a viral video firestorm and a populist presidential candidate bearing more than a passing resemblance to one Donald Trump. The New York Times has described The Nix as a ‘supersize and audacious novel of American misadventure’.
Hill’s novel – at times surreal and dystopian – has arrived at an extraordinary moment in American political history. Listen to him in conversation with Louise Swinn, where he talks about the process of writing the book (in longhand, no less), and the surprising people and experiences that prompted its characters and settings.
Louise Swinn and Nathan Hill — Photo: Jon Tjhia
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