Griffith Review 30: The Annual Fiction Edition

Julianne Schultz

Griffith Review 30: The Annual Fiction Edition
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Griffith Review 30: The Annual Fiction Edition

Julianne Schultz

Griffith REVIEW’s second annual fiction collection will focus on the Pacific region- from the Americas to Asia, the Pacific islands, New Zealand and Australia. What binds us? What pulls us apart? As economic, political and cultural power moves from North America and Europe to the Asia-Pacific, Australia is enjoying a new relationship with its neighbours. The shift of individuals and ideas across borders is giving rise to new voices in literature. Griffith REVIEW 30 will feature sparkling short fiction by those writers - emerging and established - who are engaging with the region. Packed with great summer reading, this edition will also include the announcement of the winners of the 2010 Griffith REVIEW Emerging Writers' Prize (GREW).


Julianne Schultz’s editorial highlights the difficulty of reading a cohesive narrative from the recent federal election, bombarded as we were with newspaper, television, radio and internet stories, each superseding the other in the static of campaigning. ‘Journalism,’ she writes, ‘may provide the first draft of history, but it is increasingly ill-suited to making sense of the big story […] of making sense of the full complexity.’ Reading great fiction, she continues, can also be ‘a way of learning about the world’. This annual fiction edition is a compilation of stories from Australian as well as French, Chinese and New Zealand writers. And it has an impressive list of contributors: 2010 Miles Franklin winner Peter Temple, Janet Turner Hospital, Eva Hornung and Marion Halligan, along with some of Australia’s most promising new talents, such as Alice Pung and Patrick Allington.

There is a subtle political thread to most of the stories – but that’s hardly unexpected when many of them are set in the Asia-Pacific region. But these settings and their preoccupations – cultural ignorance, the barriers of language, individual isolation in thriving metropolises – lend a great deal of truthfulWhileness to the edition, and sophistication. It is refreshingly non-parochial; we do, entertainingly, learn more about the world.

The standouts for me were Marie Darrieussecq’s ‘My Fall in Calcutta’ – a very funny tale about a writer’s decadent holidaying in India, ‘pasteurising her conscience’ by visiting a leprosarium, and then falling into an open-air sewage channel. Krissy Kneen’s ‘Steeplechase’ is an excellent addition, too – a disturbing narrative from a young girl on the cusp of fully realised sexuality, exploring the complexities (and occasional brutality) of sibling power relations. It’s a riveting story. This edition also features new poetry, an essay, and memoir pieces from Luke Davies and Kate Holden, who styles an absorbing piece about living in Shanghai for four months, cleverly integrating Don Quixote into her story.

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