• just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth

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    "… straddles YA and adult literary fiction in the same way as Tim Winton's Breath … Layla's is a unique voice. A beautifully told story.” — Cameron Raynes

  • Kirsten Krauth

    Novelist. Blogger. Editor. My first novel just_a_girl just published. I blog on all things literary and filmy at Wild Colonial Girl

    "just_a_girl is a complex and timely novel, the first book by a strong writer who is not afraid to go to honest, dark places." 
    — Angela Meyer, LiteraryMinded blog

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Communicating the incommunicable: celebrating the work of Richard Flanagan

Australian novelist Richard Flanagan wins the Man Booker Prize in 2014 for The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Through Richard Flanagan’s writing flows the destructive power of love, the lyricism of horror, the revisioning of Tasmania, and the gaps between words and action. High school dropout. Bush labourer. Rhodes scholar. River guide. Environmental activist. Film director. Man Booker prize winner. Indigenous Literacy Foundation ambassador. Whatever way you twist it, Richard Flanagan has had an unusual career. While Flanagan has often publicly stated that he believes writers should be separated from their defining adjectives, it’s hard to divorce him from Tasmanian. Given the tidal wave of support following his Booker Prize win in 2014, and the video of US President Barack Obama buying Flanagan’s book at a bookstore, former Tasmanian premier Paul Lennon may rue the day he said, “Richard Flanagan and his fiction…

Looking beyond the labels: Tara Moss

Tara Moss' new memoir The Fictional Woman

At the recent Sydney Writers’ Festival, crime fiction writer Tara Moss appeared on a panel with Irvine Welsh and Damon Young, talking about writing the body. As she held her new memoir ‘The Fictional Woman’ up to the audience, I was drawn immediately to the cover, a close up of her face, with labels written on in black: Dumb Blonde mingling with Feminist, Model with Bleeding Heart. It started me thinking about the names I’ve been called, especially when I was a teenager, and how they’ve defined or ignored the essential parts of me – and how often they were contradictory, exposing the labels as fabrications. Here are some that people have aimed and fired at me (friends, bosses, family, boys yelling out of cars as they…

Shyness is nice: the beauty of inarticulation

Shy is the first book by Sian Prior

At the recent Sydney Writers’ Festival, David Marr did a wonderfully incisive interview with Christos Tsiolkas, author of Dead Europe, The Slap and, most recently, Barracuda. Throughout the session, in response to Marr’s questions, Tsiolkas took many minutes to speak, occasionally with his head in his hands as if trying to squeeze out the answers. The loud silence filled the room. But when he finally was able to seize the words, his ideas were rich in detail, nuanced, worth waiting for. Marr quipped that ‘he writes loudly and speaks quietly’. As I waited patiently for Tsiolkas to frame himself, I realised how rare this was: the chance to see a writer composing, having the courage to be uncertain, to not reach for the quick answer,…

Friday Night Fictions: author profile Laura Jean Mckay

Laura Jean Mckay

I first came across Laura Jean McKay’s collection of short stories Holiday in Cambodia when I was researching new books set in the region, inspired by Walter Mason’s Destination Cambodia. After a brief trip there in 2005, it’s a country I have remained fascinated with. I wrote voraciously about it at the time (must fossick for that notebook!) and remember, at the end of each day travelling, being exhilarated and exhausted by the conflicting imagery — the gut-wrenching violence of the Killing Fields tour; the joy on the face of a girl as she gave me a tarantula to eat — and the sudden awareness of the richness of my life, in all senses of the word (see Laura’s reflections on this later). So I was thrilled when Laura sent…

Throw your arms around him? No. Carry a Big Stick by Tim Ferguson

Tim Ferguson may want to throw off the shackles of being a Doug Anthony All Star but I’m not going to let him. I’m 18. It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s late. It might even be midnight. I’m feeling like I’ve taken an E but the rave scene is yet to come. I’m screaming like those girls at the Beatles. I’m in the audience for the Doug Anthony All Stars and a girl in doc martens is chasing Paul McDermott around the stage like she’s going to eat him alive. She is fast but he is faster. They are both completely desperate. I want to be her. DAAS had a huge impact on my life at the time. They were inventive, creative (I bought a great…

Debut author profile: Tracy Farr

Tracy Farr’s debut novel The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt featured in the October soiree of Friday Night Fictions. Dame Lena Gaunt is in her 80s. She takes gentle doses of heroin, she swings between men and women as lovers and confidantes, she moves with the times via Perth, Sydney, various parts of Asia and New Zealand, all the while dreaming of her electrified passion: the theremin (see Clara Rockmore playing it). As Lena raises her fingers and moves her body, Farr’s lyrical and elegant prose places us in the picture — an audience for memories and music — as Lena negotiates a documentary crew keen to capture a look-back at her life. The idea of documentary sets up a dynamic tension between what Lena…

And the prize goes to…

Hope you are all idling away the hours reading and relaxing, and not back to the daily grind just yet.In the latest news to hand, a BIG congrats to Amy, who has won the book-hamper pack — 10 signed copies of great Australian books — for doing a review of just_a_girl on amazon.com.au. Thanks to all who posted reviews, and here is Amy’s take on the book: I read ‘just_a_girl’ within the first week after publication. I loved it. Layla’s voice is one of the most authentic teenage narrators I’ve ever met in fiction, and being a PhD candidate studying YA fiction, I have read A LOT of teenage narrators in the last two years. I understood Layla and believed her and I wanted to…

Dawn Barker: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours

In the past couple of months, I’ve started a new series — where I review someone’s book, and they review mine — and we put them up at the same time. My idea was for it to be a kind of ‘two of us’ of books/authors, where we find the connections between our work — and our lives. The first wonderful exchange was with Walter Mason (I reviewed  Destination Cambodia: Adventures in the kingdom and he took a squiz at just_a_girl). This time, I take on Dawn Barker’s popular debut novel, Fractured. Just from the outset, this review is going to have *Spoilers*. There is so much exciting plot happening in Dawn’s book that I don’t want to pussyfoot around it… I recently became familiar with Dawn Barker’s work,…

Writing Mothers: Jo Case

For a while last year, Jo Case and her book Boomer & Me seemed to be everywhere. An excerpt in the Good Weekend. An evening talk at the NSW Writers’ Centre. When I read her memoir, I was impressed, both with the story she told, and in her style of writing. It’s an unusual memoir with its pared-back, unsentimental analysis. I didn’t know much about Asperger’s when I began reading it, and I still had a lot of questions when I finished; I think one of the strengths of the book is that Jo doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. I enjoyed, and cringed alongside, her honest and often funny appraisal of what motherhood is meant to be about, as she feels her way through…

Debut author profile: Michael Adams

I must confess I didn’t know too much about YA until quite recently. I always had in my head that it was a closed genre, featuring vampires and werewolves and girls with ballgowns and insipid romance. But everyone makes mistakes. Reading more widely this year — and the YA community’s quick embrace of just_a_girl led me down this path — I realised that it’s an enormously diverse market with exactly the kind of narratives that excite me, a genre often caught in between the adult and teen worlds. I’m always a sucker for coming-of-age-girl-as-outsider-awkward-moments-until-she-realises-everybody-is-like-that narratives. Blame the 80s and Molly Ringwald. When I was an adolescent, the idea of books for teens was just gaining ground. I devoured SE Hinton, Paul Zindel, Judy Blume, Robert Cormier….

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