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The ABR Podcast
12 minutes | Dec 8, 2022
Kevin Foster on Australia in the international arena
Unlike in the United States and several other Western nations, Australian governments are under no compulsion to consult parliament before sending troops to war. In Subimperial Power: Australia in the international arena, Clinton Fernandes argues that this reflects, and furthers, Australia’s longstanding ambition in foreign affairs, which is to demonstrate its usefulness to the United States. In this week’s ABR Podcast, Kevin Foster, an academic at Monash University who has published widely on war in the Australian media, reviews Subimperial Power. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10 minutes | Dec 1, 2022
Patrick Mullins on a new biography of Lachlan Murdoch
Lachlan Murdoch will almost certainly be the next head of News Corp, one of the world’s largest media companies and the dominant force in Australia’s media landscape. In this week’s ABR Podcast, Patrick Mullins, visiting fellow at the ANU’s National Centre of Biography, reviews a new biography of Lachlan Murdoch by Paddy Manning, titled The Successor: The high-stakes life of Lachlan Murdoch. Listen to Mullins read ‘Dual Focus’, which appears in the December issue of ABR. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10 minutes | Nov 17, 2022
Amanda Laugesen on boganism
In this week’s ABR podcast, Amanda Laugesen asks what the word ‘bogan’ says about Australian culture and society. Laugesen, who is Chief Editor of The Australian National Dictionary, explains the history of the word and its derivatives, including boganity. Listen to Amanda Laugesen’s reading ‘On Boganism’, which appears in the November 2022 issue of ABR. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16 minutes | Nov 10, 2022
Anne Rutherford on The Australian Wars
This week’s ABR Podcast features Anne Rutherford’s review of the new SBS miniseries The Australian Wars, published in the November issue of ABR. Directed by Arrernte and Kalkadoon woman Rachel Perkins, the series is an attempt to recast Australian frontier conflict by posing new questions. Echoing Perkins, Rutherford asks: ‘Why is the extreme violence of the frontier not recognised as war?’ and ‘Why is the death of an estimated 100,000 people on the frontier, both black and white, not acknowledged and memorialised?’ Listen to the ABR Podcast here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13 minutes | Nov 3, 2022
Ronan McDonald on one hundred years of Ulysses
In this week’s ABR podcast, listen to Ronan McDonald discuss one hundred years of James Joyce’s Ulysses, among the most famous books of the twentieth century. McDonald, who is the Gerry Higgins Chair in Irish Studies at Melbourne University, explains that Ulysses is a work with a complex publishing history, even setting aside its censorship record. To mark the Ulysses centenary, Cambridge University Press has republished a splendid facsimile of the original version of Ulysses, raising new questions about the book we thought we knew. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20 minutes | Oct 20, 2022
Claudio Bozzi on the new test facing the Italian political system
Italy is used to political volatility. In today’s ABR Podcast, we learn about the new test facing Italy’s fragile political system following the cessation of the relatively stable leadership of Mario Draghi. Claudio Bozzi, a barrister and Lecturer in Law at Deakin University, describes the chaotic seaside campaign that took place in the lead up to the September general election. He concludes with a postscript on Italian politics written in the days after his commentary went to print. Listen to Claudio Bozzi reading 'Under the beach umbrellas', from the October 2022 issue of ABR. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
33 minutes | Oct 12, 2022
An interview with Shannon Burns
In our October issue ABR Editor and award-winning memoirist Peter Rose reviews Childhood, a remarkable new memoir by Adelaide critic and writer Shannon Burns in which Burns relates the story of a childhood and adolescence spent in great poverty and neglect. In this week’s episode of the ABR Podcast, listen to Peter Rose and Shannon Burns in conversation. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14 minutes | Oct 6, 2022
Gideon Haigh on Daniel Andrews
As the November election date approaches for Victoria, Daniel Andrews is currently Australia’s longest-serving incumbent state premier. Journalist and author Gideon Haigh examines a new biography of Andrews by The Age’s state political reporter Sumeyya Ilanbey, noting her astute observations of Andrews and his ‘modus oper-Andrews’. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Gideon Haigh reads his review from the October issue. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
51 minutes | Aug 10, 2022
2022 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize Shortlist
In this year’s ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story prize, we received more than 1,300 entries from thirty-six different countries, a testament to ongoing international interest in the Jolley Prize and ABR. Writers explored themes and topics including the pandemic, climate change, grief, desire, parenthood, and community. In this week’s podcast, the three finalists read their shortlisted stories: ‘Dog Park’ by Nina Cullen, ‘Natural Wonder’ by Tracy Ellis, and ‘Whale Fall’ by C.J. Garrow. They are briefly introduced by Jolley Prize judge and ABR Deputy Editor, Amy Baillieu. A more detailed judges’ report on the three shortlisted stories is available on our website, along with the details of the fourteen longlisted stories. The stories also appear in our August issue, now on sale. We will announce the overall winner of the Jolley Prize at a special online event this Thursday, 11 August at 6pm Melbourne time. All are welcome to this free event, but please register with firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you there! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19 minutes | Aug 4, 2022
‘Ghosts, Ghosts Everywhere’ by Sarah Gory, runner-up in ABR’s 2022 Calibre Essay Prize
The runner-up in this year’s Calibre Essay Prize, Sarah Gory’s essay ‘Ghosts, Ghosts Everywhere’ confronts spectres of the past in order to pose questions about how to live ethically in the present and about what responsibilities we bear towards the future. Drawing on a wide range of writers and thinkers as well as her grandfather’s experience of the Holocaust, Gory plots the process by which one generation’s traumatic suffering becomes another’s imaginative investment. As Gory observes, rituals of memorialisation, public and private, are beset on all sides by the snares of forgetfulness, by the temptation to ‘relegat[e] to the past what is ongoing’. Shifting between recollection and rumination, the essay refuses to yield to this temptation, proceeding through a series of fragments, ghostly demarcations of historical patterns that continue to repeat. Sarah Gory is a writer and editor based in Naarm/Melbourne. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21 minutes | Jul 28, 2022
Peter Rose on a tawdry new production of Verdi's ‘Il Trovatore’
Based on Antonio Garcia Gutierrez’s El Trovador, a romantic melodrama set against the backdrop of a fifteenth-century Spanish civil war, Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore has been described as the ‘apotheosis of the bel canto opera, with its demands for vocal beauty, agility and range’. Yet in what is also his darkest and most death-haunted work, Verdi invests the brightness and vocal embellishments of bel canto with greater dramatic tension in realising such characters as Azucena, the gypsy woman who must endlessly relive her mother’s tragedy, and her supposed son, the ardent, loyal, ever mystified Manrico. In this episode of The ABR podcast, Editor Peter Rose reads his review of Opera Australia’s new production of Il Trovatore. Rose worries that with Davide Livermore’s relentless and garish direction a newcomer might be led to dismiss Verdi’s great opera – and opera as an art form indeed – as crass and irreverent. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23 minutes | Jul 14, 2022
Ben Saul on Western hypocrisy over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February this year was met with near universal condemnation by Western nations. While aggression of this kind and on this scale has been relatively anomalous this side of World War II, Russia’s disregard for the laws and institutions upholding global peace and security is far from unprecedented. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Ben Saul reads his commentary piece from the July issue, arguing that Western disrespect for international law – from NATO’s intervention in Kosovo to the US-led invasion of Iraq to Australia’s detention of asylum seekers – is entirely consistent with Russia’s violation of ‘a stable, mutually agreed world order’. If, as Saul warns, ‘we expect Russia and China to be law-abiding, we must also look in the mirror’. Ben Saul is Challis Chair of International Law at the University of Sydney, an Associate Fellow of Chatham House in London, and has taught law at Harvard and Oxford. This is one of a series of politics columns generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17 minutes | Jun 30, 2022
John Zubrzycki on illiberalism in Modi's India
A year before he ascended to the prime ministership of India in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru proclaimed that his nation was ‘a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads’. Yet, in the seventy-five years since India’s independence, secularist tolerance of religious and cultural difference has been eroded by a rising tide of Hindu majoritarianism. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, John Zubrzycki reads his commentary on India’s transformation under Narendra Modi’s leadership – a tenure that has seen an increasingly unbridled attempt to establish Hindu hegemony across a variety of domains, from citizenship laws to education to beef consumption. John Zubrzycki is an historian and former diplomat and foreign correspondent. He is the author of The Shortest History of India (2022). This commentary is generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17 minutes | Jun 23, 2022
Elizabeth Tynan on Australia as Britain’s atomic oval
Of the many pernicious legacies of colonialism, Australia’s servility in the face of Britain’s nuclear arms aspirations is one of the most under-reported and most consequential. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Elizabeth Tynan reads her essay tracing the clandestine history of, and fallout from, the agreements that allowed the British to test atomic weapons at various sites in South and Western Australia after World War II. By highlighting the Menzies government’s eager consent and the Australian media’s compliance, Tynan shows that far from being a passive victim, Australia was largely complicit in tests that wrought havoc on large tracts of land and on the Indigenous communities who lived there. Elizabeth Tynan is an associate professor in the Graduate Research School at James Cook University, and the author of Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga story (2016) and The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia (2022). This commentary is generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29 minutes | Jun 16, 2022
John Harwood on Gwen Harwood and the perils of reticence
Ann-Marie Priest’s My Tongue Is My Own, published by La Trobe University Press and reviewed in our June issue, is the first authorised biography of the Australian poet Gwen Harwood (1920–1995). Unsurprisingly, this was not the first attempt to record the life of one of Australia’s most loved and admired poets. In an exclusive feature for ABR, John Harwood reflects on the conflicting motives behind his literary executorship of his mother’s estate – an estate holding the secrets to an at-times fractious marriage between two opposing temperaments. It's a candid, fascinating addition to the vast literature surrounding Ian Hamilton’s Keepers of the Flame (1992) and the knotty ethics of literary biography. John Harwood has written poetry, fiction, biography, environmental journalism, literary criticism, and satire. His novels The Ghost Writer (2004), The Séance (2008), and The Asylum (2012) have been translated into several languages and won several awards. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30 minutes | Jun 9, 2022
Linda Atkins on the politics and economics of abortion
The leaked draft judgment in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito proposed overturning the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, has returned abortion rights to the headlines. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Linda Atkins reads her essay, ‘Shouting Abortion’, which sets women’s right to terminations within the broader context of intergenerational poverty and the class lines of the medical profession. As personal as it is political, Atkins’ piece offers an unvarnished account of abortion from both sides of the operating table. Linda Atkins is an obstetrician, married with three children. ‘Shouting Abortion’ was shortlisted in this year’s Calibre Essay Prize. This commentary is generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19 minutes | Jun 2, 2022
Peter Rose on Richard Wagner’s music of hypnosis
Conceived during a holiday in the spa-town of Marienbad, Lohengrin stands at the crossroads of Richard Wagner’s operatic oeuvre: it was the last work composed before his political exile (as a result of his participation in the Dresden Uprising) while offering a glimpse of the leitmotivic technique that would become the signature of his late style. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Peter Rose reads his review of the recent production of Lohengrin that ran at the Arts Centre Melbourne from 14–24 May. A collaboration between Opera Australia and La Monnaie in Brussels, this Lohengrin was directed by Olivier Py and featured an all-star cast, including the internationally renowned Jonas Kaufmann, Emily Magee, and Warwick Fyfe. ‘At his best,’ Rose observes, ‘Wagner stirs us, slays us, seduces us as no other composer can – a unique entrancement.’ Peter Rose is Editor of ABR. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11 minutes | May 25, 2022
Beejay Silcox on rhapsodising Helen Garner rightly
The Writers on Writers series aims to tease some of Australia’s literary treasures out of the Aladdin’s cave of canonicity. A collaboration between publisher Black Inc., the University of Melbourne, and the State Library of Victoria, it began in 2017 with Alice Pung’s book on John Marsden and Erik Jensen’s on Kate Jennings. The series now boasts eleven titles, the most recent of which is Sean O’Beirne’s book on Helen Garner. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Beejay Silcox points out the difficulty of pairing any writer with Garner, who ‘deserves a well-armed opponent, not an acolyte’. For Silcox, this latest instalment encapsulates the idiosyncrasies of the entire series of ‘not quite memoirs and not quite primers’ – idiosyncrasies that have perhaps ‘set [O’Beirne] up to fail’. Beejay Silcox is an Australian writer and critic, and the recipient of ABR’s Fortieth Birthday Fellowship. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21 minutes | May 19, 2022
Frank Bongiorno on enlarging our diminished sense of political leadership
When Scott Morrison called the federal election in early April, he did so on an apologetic note: ‘I get it that people are tired of politics.’ This was a predictable gesture from the prime minister: his term has been marked by a series of controversies that have raised many questions about his capacity to lead on some of the country’s most pressing issues, though relatively few about his skill in internal party politics. In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Frank Bongiorno looks at the crisis of political leadership in Australia crystallised by Morrison’s government. To see the crisis clearly, Bongiorno highlights the way our contemporary political landscape has been shaped by the concentration of power in the hands of a professional class of party functionaries. As a result, the paths into politics through the major parties have narrowed and are now gatekept by factional operatives, casting doubt on the representativeness of our choice of representatives. Frank Bongiorno is Professor of History at the Australian National University. His Dreamers and Schemers: A political history of Australia will be published by La Trobe University Press in November 2022. This commentary is generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
36 minutes | May 5, 2022
Simon Tedeschi reads his 2022 Calibre Prize-winning essay, ‘This woman my grandmother’
Shortly before Simon Tedeschi’s grandmother, Lucy Gershwin, died sixteen years ago, she recorded a memoir of her wartime years. Gershwin, a Polish Jew, was the only survivor of a family obliterated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Tedeschi’s powerful essay, ‘This woman my grandmother’, reflects on the moment he decided to read her memoirs and encounter the tragic outlines of a life that remains shaded by a reticence typical of her generation. It’s a thoroughly deserving winner of the Calibre Essay Prize, now in its sixteenth year and one of the world’s leading prizes for an original essay. The judges – critics Beejay Silcox and Declan Fry and Peter Rose, Editor of ABR – chose ‘This woman my grandmother’ from a field of almost 600 entries from 17 different countries. We publish ‘This woman my grandmother’ in our May issue. In this week’s podcast, Simon Tedeschi reads his winning essay. Simon Tedeschi is one of Australia’s most renowned classical pianists. He commenced piano studies when he was six and gave his first concerto performance at the age of eight, at the Sydney Opera House. He has performed with all the major Australian state orchestras, as well as many overseas, and he has released a number of recordings through Sony and ABC Classics. His first book, Fugitive, is now available from Upswell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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