Jessica Au

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Website: www.jessicaau.com

Twitter: @jess_jm

Jessica Au is the former editor of Readings Monthly. Her first novel, Cargo was published in 2011.

Reviews

Holy Bible by Vanessa Russell

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Seventeen-year-old Tranquillity Bloom lives in Ballarat and dreams of moving to Melbourne to become a nurse. Her family are part of a diminishing religious sect, the Christadelphians, and Tranquillit…

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Out of Shape by Mel Campbell

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Mel Campbell has a brilliant eye for popular culture, as anyone who’s followed her blog, A Wild Young Under-Whimsy, or her other writing will know. Her first book, Out of Shape, tackles the fashion i…

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Night Games by Anna Krien

Reviewed by Jessica Au

That football culture is ever-present in Melbourne is a given. Whether you love it, hate it or are indifferent to it, chances are you’ll still know a good deal about it. On a cultural level, its team…

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Reviewed by Jessica Au

In rural Iceland, 1829, a woman named Agnes Magnúsdóttir is sentenced to death for her part in a brutal double murder. As she awaits her execution, she is sent to board with a local family on their f…

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Welcome To Your New Life by Anna Goldsworthy

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Anna Goldsworthy’s debut memoir, Piano Lessons, followed her emergence into the world of classical music and subsequent rise to fame. Her second, Welcome to Your New Life, is a record of the birth of…

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Ghost Wife by Michelle Dicinoski

Reviewed by Jessica Au

In 2005, Michelle Dicinoski and her American girlfriend, Heather, decided to get married. The proposal came, wildly and beautifully, from Michelle musing casually about a road trip together to Canada…

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Cat & Fiddle by Lesley Jørgensen

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice seems to be an inexhaustible source of literary rummaging for the writers of today – from Colm Tóibin’s solemn tribute in Brooklyn to P.D. James’ somewhat more tongu…

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Canberra by Paul Daley

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Cities have, in our popular culture, a tendency to gather their own particular set of clichés. Like a cast of characters on a midday TV show, their roles are fixed, enacted and repeated, and the ster…

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Lola Bensky by Lily Brett

Reviewed by Jessica Au

When Lily Brett was 18, she was offered a job as a journalist, writing for the soon-to-be iconic Australian rock magazine Go-Set. No one, incidentally, asked her anything about her past experience, b…

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Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Few writers understand the short-story form as well as Cate Kennedy, and her latest collection, Like a House on Fire, is a welcome return to the territory of Dark Roots (a book that I still find myse…

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The Darkest Little Room by Patrick Holland

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Following his simply brilliant collection of essays, Riding the Trains in Japan, Patrick Holland has returned to much grittier fictive grounds in his latest novel, The Darkest Little Room. Set among …

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Sufficient Grace by Amy Espeseth

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Deep in the heart of rural Wisconsin, two small families eke out a harsh but simple living, dictated to both by the ancient rhythms of the land around them, as well as by their insular, deeply rooted…

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Black Mountain by Venero Armanno

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Venero Armanno’s latest novel, Black Mountain, is in many ways a rich and romantic journey epic – driven forwards by the life and survival of a singular character through exotic cities, histories and…

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Pilgrimage by Jacinta Halloran

Reviewed by Jessica Au

When her mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Celeste, 49, prepares herself to assume the role of a carer. A paediatrician, she is willing to arm them both with the logic of science: of cold …

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Welcome to Normal by Nick Earls

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Eight stories make up Nick Earls’s most recent collection, Welcome to Normal – each of them vivid, self-contained examples of what longform storytelling can achieve. Caught somewhere between a nov…

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The Rest is Weight by Jennifer Mills

Reviewed by Jessica Au

One of the problems with many short story collections – particularly those that gather together the disparate works of a single author over time – is the tendency to repeat the same few notes. Findin…

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Text Classics: They’re a Weird Mob by Nino Culotta

Reviewed by Jessica Au

In a way, They’re a Weird Mob reads just as much as a love-letter to the Australian language as it does as a paranorma of immigration and culture-shock in 1950s Sydney.

Nino Culotta, both narrator …

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The Weight of a Human Heart by Ryan O’Neill

Reviewed by Jessica Au

When Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad was propelled into the literary stratosphere last year (helped along by a small prize called the Pulitzer), one chapter in particular seemed to crop u…

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Floundering by Romy Ash

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Brothers Tom and Jordy are living with their grandparents in quiet suburbia until, one day, their mother Loretta returns for them, wanting both a new start and another a chance with her boys. She has…

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Sweet Old World by Deborah Robertson

Reviewed by Jessica Au

There are novels that win you over in an instant and novels that creep up on you. Surely and insistently, Deborah Robertson’s Sweet Old World is the latter.

Writer and expat David Quinn has come to…

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The Fine Colour of Rust by P.A. O’Reilly

Reviewed by Jessica Au

Paddy O’Reilly has been a staple on the short story circuit for a long while now, winning just about everything from The Age Short Story Award to Zoetrope: All Story in the US, a history anthologised…

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News

July Highlights

by Jessica Au

Jessica Au, editor of Readings Monthly, is moving to the Balkans but she leaves us with some great July recommendations before stepping on the plane.

Mid-winter takes us from the speculative world of mind-bending literati to a ragtag bunch of rural evangelists. Local house Sleepers has brought out its second debut of the year, Vanessa Russell’s Holy Bible – a darkly comedic, darkly savage look…

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Q&A with Anna Krien

by Jessica Au

In Night Games, Anna Krien takes a fearless and compelling look at the dark side of footy culture – in particular the disturbing incidents that took place in a South Melbourne townhouse after the 2010 grand final that culminated in the rape trial of a young footballer. Here, she talks to Jessica Au.

What drew you to explore this side of sporting culture? Did you feel that this was a book that

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What I loved: To Siberia by Per Petterson

by Jessica Au

Readings Monthly editor Jessica Au shares with us a book she loved for our new ‘What I Loved’ series.

It is possible to think about reading as a series of turning points. Every now and then, a book comes along like a shock – making and breaking, staying with you. It’s an ‘ah’ moment of recognition, when you finally realise that writing can be done like that, often leading to a whole new plane …

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Q&A with Geordie Williamson, author of The Burning Library

by Jessica Au

Geordie Williamson chats with Jessica Au about his new book, The Burning Library.

Tell us about writing The Burning Library – where did the idea start for you?

The germ of an idea came with 2009’s Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature. I thought the project brilliant. It was a physically handsome book, produced by gifted editors and scholars, and filled with masses of unexpected,…

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Q&A with Craig Silvey, author of The Amber Amulet

by Jessica Au

Craig Silvey chats with Jessica Au about his new book, The Amber Amulet.

Tell us about writing The Amber Amulet – where did the idea start for you?

Curiously enough, for a story that boasts an astonishing amount of pseudo-science, featuring, as it does, a boy-hero named The Masked Avenger who believes he can absorb and adopt the dormant energy embedded in geological items, and that this in …

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Q&A with Andrew Croome, author of Midnight Empire

by Jessica Au

Andrew Croome chats with Jessica Au about his novel, Midnight Empire.

Tell us about the research process for Midnight Empire – how did you go about immersing yourself in the world of professional poker or the air force base for example?

Before writing the book I travelled to Las Vegas, where I visited most of the poker rooms and spoke to a lot of players. I deliberately went alone because t…

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