AustLit logo
person or book cover
Image courtesy of the author.
James Ley James Ley i(A70104 works by)
Born: Established: 1971 Whyalla, Whyalla area, Northern Eyre Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, ;
Gender: Male
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


James Thomas Ley was born in South Australia, and grew up in the northern New South Wales town of Armidale. He studied literature at the University of New England and politics at the University of Melbourne and holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Western Sydney.

Ley has worked as a freelance critic since 1997. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The Age, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Book Review, Australian Literary Review, Meanjin, Overland, Australian Literary Studies and the Times Literary Supplement. In January 2013, he became the founding editor of the Sydney Review of Books; in 2018, he remains contributing editor with the periodical.

He has twice acted as a judge in the fiction category for The Age Book of the Year competition.

Most Referenced Works

Personal Awards

2019 recipient Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships Literature Arts Projects For Individuals and Groups $50,000
2014 winner Geraldine Pascall Prize for Critical Writing

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon The Australian Face : Essays from the Sydney Review of Books Artarmon : Sydney Review of Books Giramondo Publishing , 2017 12141177 2017 anthology essay

'The Sydney Review of Books is Australia’s leading space for longform literary criticism. Now celebrating five years online, the SRB has published more than five hundred essays by almost two hundred writers. To mark this occasion, The Australian Face collects some of the best essays published in the SRB on Australian fiction, poetry and non-fiction. The essays in this anthology are contributions to the ongoing argument about the condition and purpose and evolving shape of Australian literature. They reflect the ways in which discussions about the state of the literary culture are constantly reaching beyond themselves to consider wider cultural and political issues.

'The Sydney Review of Books was established in 2013 out of frustration at the diminishing public space for Australian criticism on literature. There’s even less space for literature in our newspapers and broadcast media now. The Sydney Review of Books, however, is thriving, as the essays in The Australian Face show. Here, you’ll read essays on well-known figures such as Christos Tsiolkas, Alexis Wright, Michelle de Kretser and Helen Garner, alongside considerations of the work of writers who less frequently receive mainstream attention, such as Lesbia Harford and Moya Costello.' (Publication summary)

2018 shortlisted Mascara Avant-garde Awards Anthology
y separately published work icon Sydney Review of Books 2013 Sydney : Sydney Review of Books , 2013- Z1913808 2013 website periodical review (110 issues) 'The Sydney Review of Books is an online journal devoted to long-form literary criticism. It is motivated by the belief that in-depth analysis and robust critical discussion are crucial to the development of Australia's literary culture. We decided to embark on this project because of our concerns about the reduced space for serious literary criticism in the mainstream media, and the newspapers in particular, given their uncertain future. We intend the Sydney Review of Books to be a venue in which Australian writers and critics can engage with books at length, a venue in which to rediscover the intimate connection between the art of criticism and the art of the essay. The Review's focus is Australian writing, but it will also consider the work of overseas authors.' (Source: )
2021 recipient Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships Re-imagine: Sector Recovery Initiatives for a weekly newletter aggregating non-fiction published in other literary journals.
2020 recipient Create NSW $50,000: To support its delivery of ‘a vibrant program of review and feature essays authored by the best writers in Australia and NSW in 2021–2024’. SRB said, ‘We will continue to support local writers through fellowships and residencies, and we will broaden our audience engagement through increased public programming and regional outreach.’
2019 recipient The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund Emerging Critics $49,500 for its Emerging Critics Fellowships over three years
Last amended 9 Sep 2019 11:39:51
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: