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
2022 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize Shortlist
In this year’s Elizabeth Jolley Short Story prize, we received more than 1,300 entries from thirty-six different countries, a testament to ongoing international interest in the Jolley Prize and ABR. Writers explored themes and topics including the pandemic, climate change, grief, desire, parenthood, and community. In this week’s podcast, the three finalists read their shortlisted stories: ‘Dog Park’ by Nina Cullen, ‘Natural Wonder’ by Tracy Ellis, and ‘Whale Fall’ by C.J. Garrow. They are briefly introduced by Jolley Prize judge and ABR Deputy Editor, Amy Baillieu. A more detailed judges’ report on the three shortlisted stories is available on our website, along with the details of the fourteen longlisted stories. The stories also appear in our August issue, now on sale. We will announce the overall winner of the Jolley Prize at a special online event this Thursday, 11 August at 6pm Melbourne time. All are welcome to this free event, but please register with firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you there!
‘Ghosts, Ghosts Everywhere’ by Sarah Gory, runner-up in ABR’s 2022 Calibre Essay Prize
The runner-up in this year’s Calibre Essay Prize, Sarah Gory’s essay ‘Ghosts, Ghosts Everywhere’ confronts spectres of the past in order to pose questions about how to live ethically in the present and about what responsibilities we bear towards the future. Drawing on a wide range of writers and thinkers as well as her grandfather’s experience of the Holocaust, Gory plots the process by which one generation’s traumatic suffering becomes another’s imaginative investment. As Gory observes, rituals of memorialisation, public and private, are beset on all sides by the snares of forgetfulness, by the temptation to ‘relegat[e] to the past what is ongoing’. Shifting between recollection and rumination, the essay refuses to yield to this temptation, proceeding through a series of fragments, ghostly demarcations of historical patterns that continue to repeat. Sarah Gory is a writer and editor based in Naarm/Melbourne.
Peter Rose on a tawdry new production of Verdi's ‘Il Trovatore’
Based on Antonio Garcia Gutierrez’s El Trovador, a romantic melodrama set against the backdrop of a fifteenth-century Spanish civil war, Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore has been described as the ‘apotheosis of the bel canto opera, with its demands for vocal beauty, agility and range’. Yet in what is also his darkest and most death-haunted work, Verdi invests the brightness and vocal embellishments of bel canto with greater dramatic weight in realising such characters as Azucena, the gypsy woman who must endlessly relive her mother’s tragedy, and her supposed son, the ardent, loyal, ever mystified Manrico. In this episode of The ABR podcast, Editor Peter Rose reads his review of Opera Australia’s new production of Il Trovatore. Rose worries that with Davide Livermore’s relentless and garish direction a newcomer might be led to dismiss Verdi’s great opera – and opera as an art form indeed – as crass and irreverent.
Ben Saul on Western hypocrisy over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February this year was met with near universal condemnation by Western nations. While aggression of this kind and on this scale has been relatively anomalous this side of the second world war, Russia’s disregard for the laws and institutions upholding global peace and security is far from unprecedented. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Ben Saul reads his commentary piece from the July issue, arguing that Western disrespect for international law – from NATO’s intervention in Kosovo to the US-led invasion of Iraq to Australia’s detention of asylum seekers – is entirely consistent with Russia’s violation of ‘a stable, mutually agreed world order’. If, as Saul warns, ‘we expect Russia and China to be law-abiding, we must also look in the mirror’. Ben Saul is Challis Chair of International Law at the University of Sydney, an Associate Fellow of Chatham House in London, and has taught law at Harvard and Oxford. This is one of a series of politics columns generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.
John Zubrzycki on illiberalism in Modi's India
A year before he ascended to the prime ministership of India in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru proclaimed that his nation was ‘a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads’. Yet, in the seventy-five years since India’s independence, secularist tolerance of religious and cultural difference has been eroded by a rising tide of Hindu majoritarianism. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, John Zubrzycki reads his commentary on India’s transformation under Narendra Modi’s leadership – a tenure that has seen an increasingly unbridled attempt to establish Hindu hegemony across a variety of domains, from citizenship laws to education to beef consumption. John Zubrzycki is an historian and former diplomat and foreign correspondent. He is the author of The Shortest History of India (2022). This commentary is generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.
Elizabeth Tynan on Australia as Britain’s atomic oval
Of the many pernicious legacies of colonialism, Australia’s servility in the face of Britain’s nuclear arms aspirations is one of the most under-reported and most consequential. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Elizabeth Tynan reads her essay tracing the clandestine history of, and fallout from, the agreements that allowed the British to test atomic weapons at various sites in South and Western Australia after World War II. By highlighting the Menzies government’s eager consent and the Australian media’s compliance, Tynan shows that far from being a passive victim, Australia was largely complicit in tests that wrought havoc on large tracts of land and on the Indigenous communities who lived there. Elizabeth Tynan is an associate professor in the Graduate Research School at James Cook University, and the author of Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga story (2016) and The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia (2022). This commentary is generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.
A corker of a story and what a reading voice too! Thank you.
The podcast projects an attitude of uninformed superiority I’ve only ever seen in the southeast rump of my country.
A group of people still at Don’s Party, disappointed in the other people who live on our island. I’m going to join their site to read on Houellebecq And Baudelaire, I hope I am wrong.
An die Nachgeborenen
I read Elizabeth Holdsworth’s essay in ABR & have listened to it twice on the podcast. Thanks for showcasing such excellent Australian writing.