Australian politics, society & culture

December 2014
Disturbing accounts come to light about conditions in the island’s detention centr
By The Monthly

The following letters, written by asylum seekers on Nauru in the past three months, were provided to the Monthly. They are accounts of conditions in the detention centre on the island and the state of mind of those detained in it.

We are publishing them because we believe the right to be heard is fundamental. It is the least asylum seekers deserve, particularly those detained indefinitely.

These are informal translations of the original texts, which have also been provided to the Moss review.

Current Issue
Gambler and MONA founder David Walsh has written a book
By Amanda Lohrey
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart is an underground labyrinth, often dimly lit, but its founder’s domestic apartment is a glassy sunlit box, the light so bright I consider killing eye contact and putting on my sunglasses.
December 2014
‘Serial’ comes to a dubious end
By Elmo Keep
[Note: major spoilers for Serial follow. If you haven’t listened to the series, you can find all the episodes here.]
Dan Gilroy’s ‘Nightcrawler’ and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman’
Luke Davies
“Will this be on television?” Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) asks a news stringer who is shooting footage of a woman being freed by police from a burning car. “Morning news,” says the cameraman. “If it bleeds, it leads.”
Coles, Woolworths and the price we pay for their domination
Malcolm Knox
The Nikitaras brothers’ corner store has a hallucinatory shine, like a set from a period movie. Staff in navy blue uniforms and white net caps smile from behind jars of preserved clementines and glacé peaches, pineapples and cherries.

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November 2014
As captain of Team Australia, Tony Abbott has plunged us into war without debate
By Judith Brett
I happened to be in London the day the British prime minister, David Cameron, recalled the House of Commons to request its support for British air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq. I went to listen to the debate, and although I missed the big beasts I caught the three-...
November 2014
Gary Quinlan and Julie Bishop have done Australia proud at the UN Security Council
By Nick Bryant
In July, hurriedly convening his national security team in Canberra as the scattered wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 still smouldered in Ukraine and looters picked at the bodies of the dead, Prime Minister Tony Abbott started to push the idea of a resolution at the U
October 2014
The chimes they are a-changing at the Sydney Opera House
By Darryn King
One piece of music has been heard at the Sydney Opera House more than any other. It is played sometimes dozens of times a day and more than 1000 times a year. The entire composition consists of two alternating notes, A and F sharp, in a plodding loop on a fake xylophone.
Current Issue
Anote Tong, president of Kiribati, on Svalbard.
The president of Kiribati goes on a fact-finding mission in the Arctic
By John van Tiggelen
In the late 16th century, the Dutch mariner Willem Barents spent three consecutive summers in the Arctic Ocean, scouting for a shortcut to the East Indies. The midnight sun, he figured, would surely blaze him a path. Yet he struck only ice beyond the 80th parallel. On top of that, the wildlife proved testy. On Barents’ first voyage, a polar bear ran amok aboard.
November 2014
How World War One came to Broken Hill
By Nicholas Shakespeare
Even in Australian terms, Broken Hill – 850 kilometres north of Melbourne, 1150 kilometres west of Sydney – feels a long way from anywhere. Yet in its boom days, the sweltering main street boasted more hotels than any city in Australia.
September 2014
In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language
By Anna Goldsworthy
Umeewarra Mission
In a bluestone former school building in Port Augusta, now a campus of the University of Adelaide, four generations of Barngarla people sit conference-style around a table. Harry Dare, a local elder, wears a snug beanie pulled down to his eyebrows: a ganoo-ganoo moona, or “warm...
October 2014
Gene silencing, miracle cures and Balmain’s biggest biotech company
By Michael Lucy
Early examples of gene silencing in transgenic plants
Mick Graham was working at CSIRO’s plant industry labs in Canberra in the 1990s, trying to genetically engineer virus-resistant potatoes, when he had his big idea about RNA interference. RNA is ribonucleic acid, DNA’s less-famous sibling and a fundamental cog in the machinery of...
October 2014
Truth, fiction and psychotherapy
By JM Coetzee & Arabella Kurtz
JMC “The stories we tell about ourselves may not be true, but they are all we have.”


December 2014
Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’
By Robert Manne
There is nothing in history even remotely as momentous as what humankind is now doing in full knowledge of the facts – gradually destroying the habitability of large parts of the Earth for humans and other species by burning fossil fuels in ever-increasing quantities to meet our ever-increasing energy needs.
November 2014
Virago Press; $29.99
By Gretchen Shirm
The first two instalments of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead series, Gilead (2004) and Home (2008), won her the Pulitzer and Orange prizes respectively.
November 2014
Bloomsbury; $29.99
By Kevin Rabalais
He introduced himself in one of the most memorable and direct voices of contemporary American fiction: “My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sportswriter.” Readers first met Bascombe, recently divorced and aged 38, in The Sportswriter (1986). The book established Ford as a major...
December 2014
Black Inc.; $29.99
By Simon Caterson
Our ancestors are always with us. It is precisely this enduring if elusive presence, inscribed in our genetic inheritance and manifested in sometimes less rational aspects of humanity, that interests Christine Kenneally. Like many of us at some point in our life, Kenneally is...
November 2014
The long decline of U2
By Anwen Crawford
U2 first put themselves forward as rock ’n’ roll crusaders of a very particular kind on War (1983), their third studio album.