culture

‘Bodies of Light’ by Jennifer Down

The Australian author’s latest novel, dissecting trauma, fails to realise its epic ambitions

‘Bewilderment’ by Richard Powers

The Pulitzer winner’s open-hearted reworking of Flowers for Algernon, updated for modern times

‘Scary Monsters’ by Michelle de Kretser

Two satirical stories about fitting in, from the two-time Miles Franklin–winner

There is a light

Andrew O’Hagan’s ‘Mayflies’ and what might endure from our irresponsible but spirited youth

Living to regret: ‘Nostalgia Has Ruined My Life’

With an exasperating but charming protagonist, Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle’s episodic novella demonstrates faultless comic timing

‘Beirut 2020’ by Charif Majdalani

The Lebanese writer’s elegiac journal captures the city’s devastating port explosion

‘Harlem Shuffle’ by Colson Whitehead

The author of ‘The Underground Railroad’ offers a disappointingly straightforward neo-noir caper set in the early ’60s

The meanings of production: ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’

Novelist Sally Rooney returns to the dystopia of contemporary life while reflecting on her own fame

Desire’s conspiracies: ‘The Right to Sex’

Philosopher Amia Srinivasan’s essays consider incels, consent and sexual discrimination

Not a rehearsal: ‘Small Joys of Real Life’

Allee Richards’ debut novel questions the line between authenticity and fakery in the life of a young woman