Review

  • The Stella Count 2014

    The Stella Count for 2014 is in!

    This wonderful little study, conducted by the same people behind the Stella Prize, looks at gender (im)balance in book reviews across Australia. You can see the full results here.

    What’s the take-home message? Most of the regionals seem to be getting things right. There are fairly equal numbers of male and female reviewers, ditto for the gender of authors reviewed.

    The nationals – the Australian, the Financial Review and the Monthly – all have significantly higher numbers of male reviewers, and significantly higher numbers of male authors reviewed.

    AND there’s a bias towards men reviewing men and women reviewing women across the board, with men showing this preference more strongly.

    So, what to do? Well, on a personal level, if you tend to reach for books by men, maybe it’s time to try something by a woman. We at Wakefield Press have suggestions (of course!).

    <em>Hunger Town<em> by Wendy Scarfe

    1. Hunger Town by Wendy Scarfe

    Shortlisted for one of Australia’s premier writing prizes, lauded by reviewer after reviewer (of all genders), this ripping tale of a political cartoonist caught between idealism and reality is a great read.

    <em>Nature's Line<em> by Janis Sheldrick

    2. Nature’s Line by Janis Sheldrick

    This is the definitive biography of George Goyder, whose understanding of rainfall and arability was miles ahead of many in his time. Sheldrick’s biography is meticulously researched and well written, making it a real pleasure to read.

    <em>Silver Lies, Golden Truths<em> by Christine Ellis

    3. Silver Lies, Golden Truths by Christine Ellis

    The tale of an illegal German immigrant caught between two world wars and part of the only enemy attack to take place on Australian soil in World War I – at Broken Hill.

    <em>Sweet Boy Dear Wife<em> by Heather Rossiter

    4. Sweet Boy Dear Wife by Heather Rossiter

    Hot off the press! A fascinating story about Jane Dieulafoy, an archaeologist who worked on sites throughout the Middle East in the nineteenth century, often dressing as a boy to work unhindered. Rossiter makes Jane’s world come alive.

    <em>Fables Queer and Familiar<em> by Margaret Merrilees

    5. Fables Queer and Familiar by Margaret Merrilees

    Yes, it’s about lesbian grandmas, no, that doesn’t mean you have to be a lesbian grandma to enjoy it. In fact, every single person I’ve met who’s picked up this book has loved it. Hilarious, is the word that comes up over and over again.

     

  • A lovely review of Kate Strohm’s Siblings

    I think this book is a revelation. It has shone light to a lifetime of feelings and emotions that I could never really make sense of, until now.

    For anyone who has considered reading Kate Strohm’s wonderful book, Siblings:

    <em>Siblings</em>

     

    By Joe Cole (Phoenix Society):

    I think this book is a revelation. It has shone light to a lifetime of feelings and emotions that I could never really make sense of, until now.

    One of the many things that is to be greatly admired about this book is its truly honest account of the family experience in living with a child who has disabilities. Society inverts so much attention to the spiritual benefits of having a child with disabilities in the family, that it often seems like the ‘harsh truths’ – the severe hardships and tremendous difficulties – are being deliberately ignored, specifically the pressure of siblings to excel in effort to ease the pain of parents.

    Being an identical twin to an autistic brother, I have grown up with my ‘other self’ hanging off me, depending on me for guidance and protection. In some ways this was dignifying, but mostly it was a huge burden, especially given the expectations of some of my fellow relatives. For example, my grandmother, who is very religious, often says to me that ‘when God gave your mother two little boys, one was meant to be special, and one was meant to protect them’. My parents have done their utmost to relieve me of such responsibilities, and I love them for that. They didn’t want me to be Sam’s caregiver. They wanted me to have my own life, my own friends, and my own ambitions. And even though to this day I still sometimes feel like the ‘caregiver’, I can honestly say that my life no longer revolves around my ‘other self’.

    Kate Strohm demonstrates an accurate, but more importantly, an intimate understanding of the sibling experience that can only be shared by another sibling.

    Above all this, what I appreciated most about this book was that I felt like I wasn’t reading from the clinical perspective of a psychiatrist or other field professional. Kate Strohm demonstrates an accurate, but more importantly, an intimate understanding of the sibling experience that can only be shared by another sibling. There is something immensely reassuring in reading the stories of other individuals who have siblings with disabilities. Not only does it inform people like myself that we are not alone, but it also helps us to realise that all of the reoccurring emotions such as anger, embarrassment, guilt and grief are all perfectly natural, and need not be denied, bur rather shared and acknowledged.