'Tracing the lead-up to and aftermath of a bloody showdown when the superintendent of a Queensland mission goes on a murderous rampage.
'In 1930 the superintendent of a mission on a Queensland island, driven mad by his wife’s death, goes on a murderous rampage. Fearing for their lives, the other whites arm a young Indigenous man and order him to shoot Uncle Boss dead.
'The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow traces the lead-up to this bloody showdown and the repercussions in the years after - for Aboriginal people and the colonial overseers.' (Publication summary)
'Beginning as early as A Descant for Gossips (1960), gay men and gay love come and go in Thea Astley’s prose oeuvre. The responses that these characters and this topic invite shift with point of view and under the impact of varied themes. Astley’s treatment refuses to be contained, either by traditional Catholic doctrines about sex or by Australia’s delay in decriminalising homosexual acts. Driven by love for her gay older brother Philip, whose death from cancer corresponded with her final allusions to gay love in The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow (1996), Astley’s only constant message on this, as on other topics, is humans’ responsibility to treat each other with kindness. This essay draws on Karen Lamb’s biography and on writings and reminiscences by Philip Astley’s family and fellow Jesuits to reveal his significance as his sister sought to resolve through her fiction the conflict between an inculcated Catholic idolisation of purity and her own hard-won understanding and acceptance of gay men.' (Publication abstract)
'This is the first in-depth, broad-based study of the impact of the Australian High Court’s landmark Mabo decision of 1992 on Australian fiction. More than any other event in Australia’s legal, political and cultural history, the Mabo judgement – which recognised indigenous Australians’ customary native title to land – challenged previous ways of thinking about land and space, settlement and belonging, race and relationships, and nation and history, both historically and contemporaneously. While Mabo’s impact on history, law, politics and film has been the focus of scholarly attention, the study of its influence on literature has been sporadic and largely limited to examinations of non-Aboriginal novels.
'Now, a quarter of a century after Mabo, this book takes a closer look at nineteen contemporary novels – including works by David Malouf, Alex Miller, Kate Grenville, Thea Astley, Tim Winton, Michelle de Kretser, Richard Flanagan, Alexis Wright and Kim Scott – in order to define and describe Australia’s literary imaginary as it reflects and articulates post-Mabo discourse today. Indeed, literature’s substantial engagement with Mabo’s cultural legacy – the acknowledgement of indigenous people’s presence in the land, in history, and in public affairs, as opposed to their absence – demands a re-writing of literary history to account for a “Mabo turn” in Australian fiction. ' (Publication summary)
'After briefly introducing Palm Island and its history as a place of punishment for Indigenous people, this essay looks at how readers respond to three books about Palm: Thea Astley’s The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow (1996), Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man (2008), and Cathy McLennan’s Saltwater (2016). Using reviews posted by contributors to Goodreads, I investigate the colocation of terms which recur in positive reviews, in search of a specific form of reading, described here as “absorption.” Against the publishing and broader cultural conventions which differentiate fiction from non-fiction, the evidence shows that readers who describe themselves as having become absorbed tend also to praise these books for their truth, regardless of genre. The essay proposes some points of reference for thinking about the reading experience, and concludes by briefly noting the limits of using of genre in marketing, reviewing, and studying books. The essay is built on an awareness of the radical imbalance in the distribution of literacy in the region these books depict.' (Publication abstract)
'Cultural memory involves a community shared memories, the selection of which is based on current political and social needs. A past that is significant to a national group is re-imagined by generating new meanings that replace earlier certainties and fixed symbols or myths. This creates literary syncretisms with moments of undecidability. The analysis in this book draws on Renate Lachmann theory of intertextuality to show how novels that blur boundaries without standing in for history are prone to intervene in cultural memory. A brief overview of Aboriginal politics between the 1920s and the 1990s in relation to several novels provides historical and political background to the links between, and problems associated with, cultural memory, testimony, trauma, and Stolen Generations narratives, which are discussed in relation to Sally Morgan My Place and Doris Pilkington Rabbit-Proof Fence. There follows an analysis of novels that respond to the history of contact between Aboriginal and settler Australians, including Kate Grenville historical novels The Secret River, The Lieutenant, and Sarah Thornhill as examples of a traditional approach. David Malouf Remembering Babylon charts how language and naming defined our early national narrative that excluded Aboriginal people. Intertextuality is explored via the relation between Thea Astley The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow, Chloe Hooper The Tall Man, and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Kim Scott Benang: from the heart and That Deadman Dance and Alexis Wright Carpentaria reflect a number of Lachmann concepts, syncretism, dialogism, polyphony, Menippean satire, and the carnivalesque.' (Publication summary)