The ABR Podcast

The ABR Podcast

Welcome to The ABR Podcast, produced by Australian Book Review. Released every Thursday, The ABR Podcast features a range of literary highlights, such as reviews, poetry, fiction, interviews, and commentary. Subscribe on iTunes, Google, or Spotify Podcasts, or whichever app you use to listen to your favourite podcasts. For more information about ABR, visit our website, www.australianbookreview.com.au

All Episodes

The French philosopher and sociologist Bruno Latour is one of the world’s most iconoclastic thinkers, and has recently turned his attention to the relations between human activity and the natural world. In his new work After Lockdown: A metamorphosis, Latour takes pandemical lockdowns as a provocation for a ‘philosophical fable’, in which the return to normalcy allows for a transformative re-encounter with the Earth as a work millennia in the making. In today’s episode, listen to Paul Muldoon read his review of this genre-crossing work, a work of which even the ‘Brothers Grimm would be in awe’. Paul Muldoon is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Monash University. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2

17 min 57 sec

Each year, the judges of the Calibre Essay Prize face the difficult task of selecting a winner from an impressive shortlist. Last year’s winner was Theodore Ell for ‘Facades of Lebanon’, an intimate chronicle of the 2020 port explosion in Beirut. In today’s episode, ABR turns to another impressive essay, ‘Dugongesque’, which was shortlisted for last year’s Calibre Essay Prize and appears in our upcoming December issue. Written by the award-winning Queensland author Krissy Kneen, ‘Dugongesque’ is a poignant exploration of identity, bodies, and death as Kneen embarks on a diving course bought for her by her partner. Listen to Kneen read her essay in full. And for those interested, the 2022 Calibre Essay Prize, worth $7,500, is currently open for submission.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 24

26 min 2 sec

The Australian modernist photographer Max Dupain is commonly known for his sweltering photograph Sunbaker, which offered the nation one of its most iconic beach images. In today’s episode, Helen Ennis reads her essay ‘Max Dupain’s dilemmas’, which was commended in the 2021 Calibre Essay Prize. It explores the breadth of Dupain’s work beyond Sunbaker, as well as his own grapplings with self-doubt and his complicated perspectives on life and travel. Helen Ennis is Emeritus Professor at the ANU Centre for Art History and Art Theory and a past ABR Fellow. She is an independent photography curator and writer specialising in the area of Australian photographic practice. She is currently writing a biography of Max Dupain. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 18

35 min 31 sec

Edward Said, most regarded for his pioneering study Orientalism (1978), led a varied life that combined rigorous scholarship with fearless activism. Born in Jerusalem and brought up in Cairo, Said left for America at the age of sixteen and thereafter steadily ascended through the ranks of the American academy. Outside of the ivory tower, Said became a powerful spokesperson for Palestinian self-determination. Timothy Brennan’s new biography, Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said, traces Said’s decades of engagement with the key political, cultural, and literary concerns of his time. As James Jiang notes in his review, ‘what emerges most distinctly from Brennan’s portrait are not the lineaments of a gifted “mind”, but rather the sheer messiness of thinking for a living’. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 11

14 min 23 sec

‍In May 2020, the High Court reaffirmed the Federal Court’s 2017 ruling that the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara region in Western Australia held exclusive native title to land on which the Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) had opened its Solomon Hub iron ore mine. The court thus brought to a close FMG’s thirteen-year campaign to secure unfettered land access. In today’s episode of the ABR Podcast, Perth-based writer and anthropologist Stephen Bennetts reviews Paul Cleary’s Title Fight, which offers a meticulous account of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation’s victory against Australia’s third-largest mining company. Yet, as Bennetts argues in his review, the Yindjibarndi victory is far from decisive given the ‘toothlessness’ of Australia’s heritage legislation. After almost a decade, state and federal governments have yet to ‘deliver the full promise of the 1992 Mabo judgment’. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 4

12 min 55 sec

Scott Morrison has now been in office longer than any of his four predecessors, and yet what do we really know of the man? In today’s episode, political historian and commentator Judith Brett rounds out our picture of the prime minister by patching together recent profiles of the elusive ‘ScoMo’ by Annika Smethurst, Lech Blaine, and Sean Kelly. Brett identifies a host of traits – from his habitual blame-shifting to an ability to compartmentalise the Christian morality governing his private life – that have helped shape his political fortunes. Behind the veneer of ‘ordinariness’ lurks a pragmatic opportunist whose avoidance of scrutiny is itself now being scrutinised. This essay is the cover feature of our upcoming November issue, available to read in full from October 29. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 28

13 min 43 sec

Tim Bonyhady is one of Australia’s leading environmental lawyers and cultural historians. He has previously traced connections between art and national mythologies in books such as Images in Opposition (1985) and The National Picture (2018). In his latest work, Two Afternoons in the Kabul Stadium, he turns his attention to Afghanistan, unpicking the fabric of contemporary Afghan society by following closely the warp and weft of its visual culture, from women’s fashion to war rugs to photography. In today’s episode, Morag Fraser reviews Bonyhady’s book, writing in the wake of the Taliban victory and immersing herself in the ‘intriguingly tangential and complex history’ woven by one of Australia’s most scrupulous and sensitive observers of culture. Morag Fraser, a previous chairperson of ABR, has been writing for the magazine since the 1990s. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 21

17 min 21 sec

Colson Whitehead is a critically acclaimed American author of eight novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad (2016) and The Nickel Boys (2019). His latest work, Harlem Shuffle, set in the titular neighbourhood in the 1960s, is branded as a probing crime caper of ‘heists, shakedowns and rip-offs’. Whitehead’s previous novels are marked by nuanced commentary on race and power, yet, as Mindy Gill argues in her review, this dynamic threatens a tantalising foray into genre fiction: ‘What prevents Harlem Shuffle from being a convincing crime novel, then, is part of its broader failure: Whitehead’s reluctance to depart from rousing social messaging.’ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 13

8 min 35 sec

Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s diagnosis of the condition of ‘bare life’ has assumed a new significance during the coronavirus outbreak. A new book, Where Are We Now? The epidemic as politics, collects some of Agamben’s most thought-provoking commentary on the politics of state responses to Covid-19. In today’s episode, David Jack reads his October article ‘Bare life and health terror’, in which he applies some of Agamben’s key insights to Australia, arguing that the philosopher’s willingness to speak up for the preservation of the foundations of civic life offers a tonic to the atmosphere of alarmism and the new medically endorsed state of exception. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 6

24 min 12 sec

It’s difficult to imagine a more hotly anticipated novel than Irish author Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You. Fiercely embargoed advance copies have sold for vast sums on eBay, and British publisher Faber even set up a custom Sally Rooney store – featuring branded bucket hats, tote bags, and a coffee truck. The author’s two prior works, Conversations with Friends and Normal People, garnered critical acclaim for their insights into young love in the modern age, with pundits even declaring her ‘the first great Millennial novelist’. ABR critic Beejay Silcox delves into Rooney’s latest work for our October issue, available to read tomorrow, September 30. In today’s episode, Beejay first discusses the entangled process of critiquing Beautiful World, Where Are You, before reading her review in full. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 29

18 min 41 sec

In the pre-television era of the early twentieth century, radio reigned supreme. It offered news and light entertainment, but also a means of communion and solidarity for the many women confined to the domestic sphere. In her new book Sound Citizens, historian Dr Catherine Fisher explores how a cohort of professional women broadcasters, activists, and politicians began utilising radio to improve the status and rights of women in Australia. In today’s episode, we hear from writer and historian Dr Yves Rees, who reviewed the book for ABR’s recent September issue. Rees is a David Myers Research Fellow in History at La Trobe University and co-host of the history podcast Archive Fever. Yves has published widely across Australian gender, transnational and economic history, and also writes on transgender identity and politics. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 22

10 min 38 sec

ABR’s Calibre Essay Prize is one of the world’s leading prizes for an original essay. This year, we received a record field of 638 essays. Today we hear from Anita Punton, who placed second for her essay ‘May Day’, a poignant memoir about piecing together her father’s life after his death. Our judges – Sheila Fitzpatrick, Billy Griffiths, and Peter Rose – described Punton’s essay as ‘a rich and moving evocation of a relationship between father and daughter’, one ‘written with humour and flair, offering a complex portrait of Punton’s father: a brilliant, narcissistic man, whose life was full of contradictions.’ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 15

35 min 50 sec

‘Other biographers write about him as if he were a normal person, not the weirdest man who ever lived.’ So says Frances Wilson, British author of the book Burning Man (Bloomsbury), a radical new biography of the captivating and contentious D.H. Lawrence. Geordie Williamson, who reviewed Burning Man for ABR’s August issue, described it as a ‘meta-biography’ that is ‘lovely on the page, often thrilling in its daring’. In today’s episode, Wilson sits down with ABR Editor Peter Rose to discuss the complexities of writing about the enigmatic Lawrence.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 8

59 min 20 sec

In today’s episode, listen to Joel Deane read his review of An Ugly Truth by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang, an account of Facebook’s meddling in the 2016 US elections that ushered Donald Trump into the Oval Office. Joel Deane argues that despite Zuckerberg’s show of civic-mindedness, Facebook’s data-mining enterprise has always been driven by contempt for its users – a manipulable mass of ‘dumb fucks’, as Zuckerberg once put it. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 1

15 min 52 sec

This year, the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize received nearly 1500 entries from thirty-six different countries, a record field. Placed third was ‘A Fall from Grace’ by John Richards. The story is the first work of historical fiction to appear on the shortlist of the Jolley Prize. In today’s episode, listen to the author read ‘A Fall from Grace’, which our judges described as ‘a deliciously enigmatic story, rich in the overtones of the international canon: Balzac, Calvino, Borges. Set in pre-revolutionary rural France, a talented painter’s career receives an unforeseen jolt that simultaneously shadows his life and propels his work from realist proficiency to metaphysical greatness.’ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 25

33 min 1 sec

In today’s episode, ABR looks back at the winner of the inaugural Calibre Essay Prize in 2007: ‘An Die Nachgeborenen: For Those Who Come After’ by Elisabeth Holdsworth. Holdsworth was born in the Netherlands in the years following World War II. Zeeland, where she grew up, was heavily bombed during the war and later flooded. Her poignant essay is a dialogue with the past, detailing her recent return to the Netherlands, her family’s vicissitudes and suffering during the war, and an unforgettable portrait of her conflicted mother. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 18

1 hr 14 min

Recently, for the eleventh time, ABR presented the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. This year the Prize attracted 1,428 entries, from thirty-six different countries. In a virtual ceremony last night, ABR named Camilla Chaudhary as the winner of this year’s Jolley Prize for her story titled ‘The Enemy, Asyndeton’. The judges – Melinda Harvey, Elizabeth Tan, and Gregory Day – described Chaudhary’s entry as ‘a delightful, nimble story; the characters bristle with life, and the dialogue is crisply rendered’. In today’s episode, listen to Camilla Chaudhary read her story in its entirety. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 11

33 min 51 sec

Few books have had as decisive an impact on the history of Indigenous Australian land management as Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu. And yet, as Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe argue in Farmers or Hunter-gatherers?, the foundations upon which Pascoe builds his account of Indigenous agriculture may be shakier than first thought. In his review of Sutton and Walshe’s book, writer and anthropologist Stephen Bennetts assesses not only their criticisms of Pascoe’s claims, but also the surrounding controversy that has turned a scholarly debate into another theatre in a culture war. What this political furore threatens to obscure is the long tradition of Australian anthropological research that has been essential to the legal restoration of Indigenous land ownership. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 4

14 min 46 sec

On 4 August 2020, Theodore Ell was living in Beirut, Lebanon, when an explosion erupted at the local port, killing more than 200 people and injuring more than 7,500. Ell and his wife, a diplomat, survived, but were badly shaken. At the encouragement of his close friend Beejay Silcox, Ell turned his experience into the essay ‘Façades of Lebanon’, a harrowing, intimate piece of reportage, and the deserving winner of the 2021 Calibre Essay Prize. In today’s episode, listen to Ell in conversation with Silcox about the inception of his prize-winning work, the balancing act of writing trauma and place, the historical complexities of Beirut, and more. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 28

42 min 56 sec

Francis Webb, an Australian poet born in 1925, was widely regarded by his contemporaries as one of the most gifted poets of his generation. His creative output was extensive, despite a troubled life living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. His first major poem, 'A Drum for Ben Boyd', appeared in book form when he was only twenty-two. In today's episode, listen to ABR's Sydney theatre critic Ian Dickson read the poem in its entirety. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 14

35 min 55 sec

Theodore Ell was living in Beirut, Lebanon, on 4 August 2020 when an explosion devastated the city and shook a nation already teetering on the brink of economic collapse. Ell and his wife, a diplomat, were badly affected, but survived. Ell's essay, 'Façades of Lebanon', intertwines the author's outsider observation of the nation with a harrowing personal experience of the blast. It represents reportage at its best, and is a fitting winner of the 2021 Calibre Prize.  In today's episode, listen to Theodore Ell read 'Façades of Lebanon' in full. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 7

40 min 40 sec

In 2020, the Victorian government declared it would establish a Truth and Justice process to ‘recognise historic wrongs and address ongoing injustices for Aboriginal Victorians’. The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission was announced in March this year as the governing body of this process, one to be led by five commissioners and invested with the powers of a royal commission. In today’s episode, Paul Muldoon reads his essay from the July issue, ‘The prison of the past’, which considers the future challenges and complexities facing the commission. As he writes: ‘In truth and reconciliation, “healing” has come to assume a central importance. But exactly who or what is being healed?’ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 30

17 min 22 sec

As the world realigns itself in the wake of a global pandemic, ABR turns its thoughts to the various forms – individual and institutional, material and more intangible – that recovery may take. In 'Poetry in times of recovery', we asked a number of Australian poets to share the works that best capture how recovery can look, sound, and feel. Today’s episode builds on the popularity of our ‘Poetry in troubled times’ episodes, released in 2020. We bear in mind, of course, that these are still troubled times, as recent events in the Middle East and the intractable problems (to do with sovereignty and borders) back home well attest. Poetry may not be the only balm we need at this juncture, but in ‘the nightmare of the dark’, as W.H. Auden once put it, the poet’s ‘unconstraining voice’ nevertheless remains a place where ‘the healing fountain starts’. All readers, poems, and times each reader appears: Sarah Holland-Batt – Adam Zagajewski, 'Try to Praise the Mutilated World' (1:25) Anders Villani – Jamaal May, 'There Are Birds Here' (3:32) and Tomas Tranströmer 'Kyrie' (5:47) Felicity Plunkett – Tracy K. Smith, 'An Old Story' (7:01) Louis Klee – Ralf Webb, 'Love Story: The Back Pages' (8:40) and excerpt from Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura (10:49) Jenny Harrison – Eavan Boland, 'Lullaby' (13:39) Peter Goldsworthy – Eugenio Montale, 'Forse un mattino' (15:31) Caitlin Maling – Theodore Roethke, 'The Waking' (16:41) Judith Bishop – Tomas Tranströmer, 'Face to Face' (19:14) Thuy On – Thuy On, 'Beautiful Mess' (21:03) John Kinsella – Emily Brontë, 'No Coward Soul is Mine' (22:09)   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 23

25 min 43 sec

In today's episode, Josephine Rowe – winner of the 2016 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize – reads a new short story, 'Bunker', which appears in the June issue of ABR. Josephine has published three short story collections and a novel called A Loving, Faithful Animal. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 16

14 min 44 sec

Patrick White, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973, has long been considered Australia’s finest novelist. And yet, the thirtieth anniversary of his death in 2020 passed by with barely a murmur. Was this merely a consequence of the pandemic, or are there larger cultural forces at play? In today's episode, historian and ABR Calibre prize-winning essayist Martin Thomas considers the posthumous neglect of the great Australian writer, who once described himself as a ‘Londoner at heart’ and who continues to challenge jingoistic and complacent forms of nationalism.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 9

36 min 25 sec

In today's episode, Ilana Snyder – President of the New Israel Fund Australia – places the recent turmoil in Israel and Palestine in the context of the all-too-familiar cycle of tension, violence, and ceasefire that has beset the region for decades. What might it take for there to be an enduring peace? Snyder examines this question, while also identifying what sets the most recent violence apart from previous eruptions: an increase in ‘intercommunal violence’ that ‘has pitted Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel against one another on streets where they have lived side by side for decades’. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 2

15 min 33 sec

Richard Flanagan's new work, Toxic, is a startling exposé on Tasmania's salmon farming industry. From genetically altered 'frankenfish' to the use of dangerous chemicals to turn 'dead-grey flesh a marketable red', the industrial machinations uncovered in Flanagan's new work are stomach-churning. As James Boyce writes in his review, 'After the publication of Toxic, I doubt Tasmania will ever be the same again.'   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 26

13 min 56 sec

Throughout her childhood, Krissy Kneen was surrounded by make-believe. At the centre of this enchanted world was her grandmother Lotty, whose prodigious fabulations not only kept her family in thrall, but also hid painful memories of poverty and forced migration. In her new memoir, The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen, Kneen retraces her grandmother's journey from Slovenia to Australia. In today's episode, Kneen sits down with her friend Beejay Silcox, a past ABR Fellow and longtime contributor, to discuss their serendipitous meeting and Kneen's journey to uncover her family's history.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 19

39 min 1 sec

Harold Bloom was one of the last of the so-called ‘Yale critics’, who shaped the terrain of literary criticism in the latter half of the twentieth century. Bloom died in October 2019, and his final book, Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles, arrives two years after his death and caps a long and controversial career. In this issue, James Ley surveys this swansong by a critic who ‘came to style himself less as a theorist and more as a theologian of literature: the high priest and only admitted member of his own private religion’. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 12

10 min 50 sec

African American Poetry is an ambitious and wide-ranging collection of Black poetry. Edited by Kevin Young, a fellow poet and poetry editor of The New Yorker, the collection spans contemporary writers such as the Pulitzer Prize-winner Jericho Brown to literary giants such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Derek Walcott. As David Mason writes, 'It needs to be said and said again just how profoundly American this poetry is, how it enriches culture and should not be ignored among the more conventionally canonised.'  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 6

22 min 53 sec

Written by award-winning historian Lucy Delap, Feminisms challenges the obfuscating binaries of the 'feminist waves'. Its main focus looks into aspects of feminism that have often been in conflict or overlooked by contemporary movements. Zora Simic reviews the book for our current April issue, and describes it as ‘building on and acknowledging the work of those who came before, while bringing new ideas and energy to the task.' Listen to Zora read her full review in today's episode.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 21

10 min 23 sec

Over the past year the pandemic has devastated the performing arts in Australia. Theatre especially has been adversely impacted. In today’s episode, theatre critic and ABR regular Tim Byrne looks at how theatre organisations are coping now that venues are beginning to reopen. He interviews a range of artistic directors spanning Melbourne Theatre Company’s departing Brett Sheehy, Queensland Theatre Lee Lewis, Malthouse Theatre’s Matthew Lutton, and many more. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 7

23 min 11 sec

In the wake of Brittany Higgins's startling allegations of sexual abuse in Parliament House, Beejay Silcox revisits her review of Witness by award-winning journalist Louise Milligan. Witness (recently shortlisted in the 2021 Stella Prize) is an interrogative critique of the criminal trial process. It is the culmination of five years of research into how witnesses are treated (and often intimidated or worse) in court rooms. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 31

13 min 7 sec

This week our subject is Cy Twombly, one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century. A new major exhibition of his work, Cy Twombly: Making Past Present, organised by the MFA in Boston and the Getty Museum in LA, surveys Twombly's immense debt to antiquity. Patrick McCaughey reviews the related catalogue for our upcoming April issue. In this wide-ranging conversation with Peter Rose, he also talks about the plight of US museums during the pandemic, the vexed question of de-accessioning, and the diaries of Fred Williams, which he is currently editing. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 16

33 min 30 sec

This week we turn to My Octopus Teacher, a documentary that has proven controversial since its publication on Netflix in late 2020. As Anne Rutherford discusses in her luminous review, My Octopus Teacher follows the descent of Craig Foster, naturalist and filmmaker, into the briny world of a particular octopus. The documentary captures the burgeoning affinity between free-diver and cephalopod, prompting questions of anthropomorphism and to what extent humankind can establish a meaningful connection with the animal kingdom.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 9

15 min 47 sec

In 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his masterful novels, which, in the judges’ words, uncover 'the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world'. His new work, Klara and the Sun, is his first novel published since winning the Nobel Prize. In today's episode, Beejay Silcox discusses the novel and our expectations of the author, and reads in full her review which appears in ABR's March issue.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 2

15 min 20 sec

Australian universities are doing it tough – hit hard by the pandemic, compelled to find new ways of teaching during lockdown, and confronted by a federal government ostensibly unsympathetic to much of their work, especially in the humanities. International education – formerly one of Australia’s most lucrative export industries – is haemorrhaging. In today's episode, Peter Tregear – academic, author, critic – reads his review of Australian Universities: A history of common cause by Gwilym Croucher and James Waghorne, published by UNSW Press.    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 17

16 min 2 sec

Paul Kildea is a man of many parts – author, musician, new artistic director of Musica Viva – and a regular contributor to ABR. In this week’s podcast, he talks to Peter Rose about the challenges of programming Musica Viva’s season during a pandemic and about Benjamin Britten, whose opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a highlight of the 2021 Adelaide Festival. Paul Kildea – who will conduct the opera – is the author of a biography of Britten. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 10

41 min 50 sec

In today’s episode, Naama Grey-Smith reads her review of At the Edge of the Solid World, the second book of fiction by the Australian writer Daniel Davis Wood. The novel follows the breakdown of the lives of a man and wife in the aftermath of the death of their firstborn. Naama Grey-Smith, an editor, publisher and critic based in Fremantle, Western Australia, reviews the book for ABR’s January-February issue – describing it as ‘a masterclass in wedding form to content’. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 26

9 min 38 sec

In today's episode of the ABR Podcast Tim Byrne discusses his review of Mark Mordue's new biography of Nick Cave with ABR Digital Editor Jack Callil.  Tim Byrne’s review of Boy on Fire appears in the January-February issue. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 19

23 min 27 sec

The events of January 6 shocked the world. In this episode of the ABR Podcast Samuel Watts reads his article 'This Is America' and offers a historical perspective. As Watts notes, 'To view the assault on the US Capitol as the climax of a dramatic, but brief, period of authoritarianism in the US is a potentially dangerous mistake. This attack was just the latest iteration in a long-lasting tradition of anti-democratic, white supremacist violence that has plagued the Republic since, at least, the Civil War.' See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 13

19 min 27 sec

The Peter Porter Poetry Prize, now in its seventeenth year and worth a total of $10,000, attracted more than 1300 entries from 33 different countries this year. It’s our pleasure now to present the five shortlisted poets, who will introduce and read their shortlisted poems. Their poems appear online and in the January–February print edition of ABR. Single print issues can be bought here. The overall winner (who will receive $6,000) won’t be known until the Porter Prize ceremony on January 27. Join us then at 5 pm Melbourne time for this online ceremony. This is a free event, but bookings are required via rsvp@australianbookreview.com.au (an access link for the event will be sent to you via email closer to the date). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 6

29 min 23 sec

Earlier this year, the National Archives of Australia – after an epic legal battle – finally released the Palace Letters, a substantial cache of correspondence shedding light on the involvement of Buckingham Palace in the lead-up to the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975. In today's episode, Jon Piccini talks with Peter Rose about two new books that interrogate the significance of the letters: The Truth of the Palace Letters by Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston, and The Palace Letters by Jenny Hocking. Piccini reviews both titles in his review in our upcoming January–February issue. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

38 min

Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle are two of the most polarising figures in French history. In today’s episode, Peter Rose talks to leading historian Peter McPhee about Patrice Gueniffey’s new book on the lasting impact of these two leaders and the French people’s fascination with ‘great men’.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

27 min 12 sec

In today's episode, Peter Rose talks to writers Beejay Silcox and Billy Griffiths about what they’ve been reading during this tumultuous year. They also speculate about some highlights of 2021. For those looking for a more extensive listing of this year's finest works, our Books of the Year features more than 30 different ABR critics nominating their favourite releases. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

33 min 24 sec

Amanda Laugesen, historian and lexicographer, is director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the ANU. In her latest book, the evocatively titled Rooted, Amanda considers the bountiful history of bad language in Australia. Her column in the December issue of ABR is devoted to the quaint old euphemism. Amanda talks about the inventive ways in which writers and editors have tried to placate the censor while also celebrating profanity.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

8 min 55 sec

In today's episode, Amy Baillieu speaks to Nicole Abadee about Sofie Laguna's latest novel, Infinite Splendours. In her November issue review, Abadee reflects that Laguna 'does not shy away from confronting subject matter' and notes that Infinite Splendours represents 'new territory' for Laguna as it follows protagonist Lawrence from childhood into adulthood. Baillieu and Abadee also discuss Abadee's own podcast Books Books Books. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

19 min 26 sec

Kylie Maslen's début essay collection, Show Me Where It Hurts, is an intimate exploration of living with chronic illness. Maslen describes her own experiences with the invisible illness she has lived with for the last twenty years, delving into its daily reality while incorporating music, literature, television, film, online culture, and more. Kate Crowcroft, who reviews the book in ABR's November issue, describes it as 'essential reading for those of us with the privilege of having a body that behaves itself'. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

8 min 44 sec

In today's episode, Joshua Black reads his tribute to former Labor senator Susan Ryan, featured in our November issue. Ryan was a historic figure in Australian politics: she was the first woman from the ALP to serve in cabinet, and cemented her legacy with the Sex Discrimination Act (1984) – which prohibited sexual discrimination in the workplace. Here, Black recounts his interview with the pioneering politician only weeks before her death on 27 September 2020. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

12 min 6 sec

In today's episode, Hessom Razavi – the ABR Behrouz Boochani Fellow – speaks to Peter Rose about his essay 'Failures of imagination: From Tehran’s prisons to Australia’s immigration detention centres', which appears in the November issue. Hessom's essay offers a powerful reflection on the experiences that led to his family fleeing Iran to escape political persecution. Navigating the 1979 Islamic Revolution, political rebellion, and tragic family disappearances, Razavi examines the similarities between Australia’s immigration detention centres and the political prison he visited as a boy – and contemplates how easily the detainees’ fate might have been his own. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

26 min 44 sec