RaveThe Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)Clark’s is a laconic, wry voice, delicately tiptoeing between comedy and pathos, always alert to idiosyncratic detail ... Aching and disquieted, urbane and oblique, Clark’s is a humorous, wiry voice: a mix of high and low culture, boppy registers and jibes and sudden intrusions of seriousness; epiphanies (occasional); poignancy (often frustrated). Many of the Asian characters are only nominally so – they are hyphenated, diasporic ... Stylistically, Clark is a great exponent of the full stop; her semicolon is almost non-existent (she would rarely inflect a sentence the way I just have). Similarly, colons and dashes are not favoured: they appear sparingly – if at all. She is fond of exclamation marks, in more ways than one ... the strongest fiction debut I have read all year.
RaveSydney Morning Herald (AU)Fernando Pessoa said you didn’t need to travel to get to know human beings. He believed that it was all in the head. Jessica Au’s second book reflects this ethos ... The larger focus is on the fragmentary nature of perception and identity. It is a book about palimpsests and what, like snow melting, runs together and washes away in the stories we tell ... Although nothing in here purports to be autofiction, it has the elegiac, memoiristic quality of that form’s close antecedent; the Japanese shishosetsu ... Melancholy and elusive ... One of the novella’s neat turns lies in how precisely and matter-of-factly it narrates events that are – as we come to realise – anything but ... There is the sense, too, that as Au cultivates her own voice – one that could belong to no one else; a voice she seems so far to have withheld from us, if not herself – we will see the full emergence of her talent.
MixedThe Monthly (AU)Perhaps owing to the limitations and tropes of its genre conceit – the caper novel has a much larger history in the United States – Harlem Shuffle, I confess, did little for me. Whitehead’s typically fizzy writing aside, the novel’s narrative, though diverting and amiable enough, is somewhat programmatic and workmanlike in its execution. A commentary on class, disillusionment and ways of moving up in the world, Harlem Shuffle is as idiosyncratic in its neo-noir fascinations as Whitehead’s debut.
Zakiya Dalila Harris
MixedThe Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)... an insider’s satire ... Laughter is generated by the reader’s ability to recognise stereotypes. It is like those tweets that rhetorically ask, “What books on a man’s shelf are a red flag for you?” At Wagner, it’s red flags all the way down. These are the cues of late-night show-style politics: raging against the machine, but generally accepting its priorities; telling jokes, while acknowledging that their frisson comes from being in on the punchline before it arrives. (David Foster Wallace, Vanity Fair, Portland, Oregon: all duly skewered) ... Harris has an ear for dialogue but the novel’s pacing is television serial-uneven ... Harris is too skilled in her characterisation, too smooth in the construction of her prose, to fall entirely prey to this. But The Other Black Girl feels like it has a tighter novel buried within it. It is not the devastating cri de coeur or reinvention of the \'office novel\' it is being heralded as. What it is being heralded as, though, does at least tell us – in racial politics as much as in publishing – that sometimes you have to gamble on beating the casino, even when you know you can’t win.
MixedThe Guardian (UK)Bedford handles all of this well, with a kind of Xanaxed energy. Her narrator roves ceaselessly, in rhythms that owe much to late 20th century American prose ... Yet Bedford’s ferris wheel of interviews, urban observation, reminiscence and sharehouse conversation can—over the course of more than 200 pages—start to feel repetitive. Sure, there is an initial rush of exhilaration when cracking the spine of any new Australian fiction that is not narrated by the survivor of a mining tragedy whose father suicides in the wood shed after a traumatic rabbit shooting incident—but only initial ... Sometimes the elliptical approach can seem like an unwillingness to draw out implication; a reluctance on the author’s part to probe her talent. Because Bedford is talented. But she plays it safe. Draining the blood and vigour from her prose, whether for fear of being \'too much,\' or of taking the risk to flesh out her portraits, is an unfortunate compromise for any writer to have to make, even if intentional. Where Bedford shines is in detailing intimate human connection; those epiphanic shocks that cut through affectations of irony and disinterest ... Bedford subtly explores, too, the vulnerabilities and dangers, the uncertain desires, of being a young woman. Seeking \'pleasure with abandon\'—or never being boring, as the Pet Shop Boys’ post-party mantra had it—is a queasy, bittersweet comedown that Bedford, filtering her Didionesque prose (and her protagonist’s Didionesque generational cataloguing) through a wider emotional lens, excels at.
RaveWesterly Magazine (AUS)As a collection, Blueberries is frequently peripatetic and content to wander a number of avenues (often within the same essay) ... A vexed relationship with temps perdu also haunts the collection, and the need to escape—or at least manage—its subtler cruelties is finely conveyed ... Savage evokes a world of ‘[f]antasy futures not lived, having never lived’ ... It is a vivid description of the accounting that comes with age, the dilettantism and vivid pretensions formulated during (and often defining of) youth limned in wry detail ... Blueberries is a remarkable collection. From the material of our frequently wanton and violent world, Savage has woven together a book that is at once tenacious and wondrously alive.
PanThe Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)... a missed pass ... There is a recurrent tendency in late-period DeLillo to invoke...rhetorical questions. They are typified by a distressing banality ... The Silence could almost be read as a cheeky shout out to James Wood ... Trapped in ‘\'the rooted procedure,\' the glittering paranoias and anxieties of modernity, DeLillo can only travel hermetically inward.
PositiveAustralian Book ReviewThe ‘palpable occlusion’ of Bellow’s dementia, his death at the age of eighty-nine, informs some of the novel’s most affecting passages ... Recollections of women are realised less gracefully. Those who populate Amis’s work—carers, redeemers, conduits, temptresses—wearily resign themselves to their fate, as must the reader. They are there, mainly, to connect the men with the men ... Nonetheless, Amis’s house style...has a way of drawing the reader in, making you an initiate. It carries the proceedings along even when you feel as if you might wish to get off. The hard bop, the brag and jive, the crotchety pugilism (always ducking and weaving): this is the joy and energy of Martin Amis, his loyal solicitude towards the reader.