'This is the first published collection of critical essays on the work of Kate Grenville, one of Australia's most important contemporary writers. Grenville has been acclaimed for her novels, winning numerous national and international prizes including the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Her novels are marked by sharp observations of outsider figures who are often under pressure to conform to society's norms. More recently, she has written novels set in Australia's past, revisiting and re-imagining colonial encounters between settlers and Indigenous Australians.
This collection of essays includes a scholarly introduction and three new essays that reflect on Grenville's work in relation to her approach to feminism, her role as public intellectual and her books on writing. The other nine essays provide analyses of each of her novels published to date, from the early success of Lilian's Story and Dreamhouse to the most recently published novel, The Lieutenant.'
Her work has been the subject of some debate and this is reflected in a number of the essays published here, most particularly with regard to her most successful novel to date, The Secret River. This intellectual engagement with important contemporary issues is a mark of Grenville's fiction, testament to her own analysis of the vital role of writers in uncertain times. She has suggested that "writers have ways of going into the darkest places, taking readers with them and coming out safely." This volume attests to Grenville's own significance as a writer in a time of change and to the value of her novels as indices of that change and in "lighting dark places."