Antithesis blog is back!
We are committed to publishing exciting content from emerging writers, many of whom are students at the University of Melbourne. If you think your work should be published on the blog, email us a pitch at firstname.lastname@example.org using ‘blog post pitch’ in the email headline.
This year’s blog editorial team are
Larisa Coffey Wong
Hal Parker Langley
Given that we are all book-lovers, we thought we’d start this year by sharing what we’ve been reading lately. Perhaps we can inspire you to delve into something new!
I can’t stop thinking about Masaji Ishikawa’s memoir, A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea. This was my first experience of reading about life in North Korea outside of news articles, and it confirmed everything I had thought was true about life for residents of that country. I was captivated by Ishikawa’s journey from a poor but not impoverished childhood in Japan, where he was born to a Korean father and a Japanese mother, to the family’s journey to North Korea, a promise land that revealed itself to be everything but, and his eventual, risky escape through China. Ishikawa faced extreme poverty and hardship throughout his life in North Korea and at many times I paused to reflect on how he – or anyone – could have survived in the living conditions there. But the memoir was also a powerful testimony to the importance of love and compassion even in the bleakest of times. This book will leave you feeling angry and helpless at the plight of North Koreans and for Ishikawa himself, whose struggle did not end when he found freedom. This is a story that everyone should find time to read.
I’ve been making my way through Ilona Andrews’ incredible Kate Daniels series. This series is a gripping and imaginative take on dystopian urban fantasy, combining meticulous research with creative world-building. Following the gritty and sarcastic mercenary Kate, Andrews presents a world in which the forgotten magic of myths and legend return, threatening to topple the technological progress of our era. The series is both thrilling and witty, breathing new life into ancient stories – it’s a must-read for any fan of fantasy or folklore.
I’ve tried to read local and modern over the holidays and my highlight has been Alice Robinson’s new novel The Glad Shout. The story takes place in a near-future Melbourne devastated by floods and droughts caused by climate change, and follows Isobel, who flees to the MCG with her husband and three-year old daughter. Like any good survival tale, it is both harrowing and uplifting, and tears welled in my eyes on several occasions. However, the greatest joy of this book is Robinson’s depiction of the main character as both a mother and an individual. Robinson brings a depth of detail to the relationships between Isobel and her child, and reflects on sacrifices that come with motherhood. As a twentysomething, childless man, my deep emotional investment in the characters is testament to Robinson’s writing. The Glad Shout will feature heavily come awards/list season, so jump on it.
As a writer, it’s probably disgraceful to admit that I haven’t read many books in recent years, although I have made it my mission to get back into them. And what better way to do that than through some light-hearted romance novels?
I’ve recently finished Annie Darling’s Lonely Hearts Bookshop series. Each of the four instalments follows a different employee of the Happy Ever After bookstore. Posie, Verity, Nina and Mattie each navigate the tumultuous world of love, all the while working to keep their struggling bookstore afloat. While the series follows a somewhat predictable formula, each protagonist is meticulously crafted and intriguingly distinct from the last. And though I normally struggle to read more than a few pages at a time after long uni days, I found myself devouring every page of this series.
Now that we’re heading into the colder months, it would be lovely to cozy up with a cup of tea and engross yourself in the world of the Happy Ever After bookstore. If you’re keen to get back into reading, want a break from the depressing state of our world, or just enjoy romantic fiction, this series is definitely worth giving a go!
Quite by accident, I’ve found myself reading a lot of debut fiction in recent months. All the books have been enjoyable in their different ways, but Stuart Turton’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has been the best so far. It’s an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery with an intricately woven narrative and a cast of rather unsavoury yet compelling characters whose schemes and secrets seem to have no end. And if that wasn’t enough, the main character is stuck in a time loop where he lives the same day over and over again, each time in a different person’s body. Turton’s debut is a gripping exploration of morality, humanity and redemption. The pace rarely falters and you will never guess the ending (I know this is cliche, but it’s true). The writing captivated me, the characters horrified me, and the plot perplexed me – it’s a thrilling read that’s well worth your time.