Sydney Review of Books: A new avenue for literary criticism in Australia

The Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney has launched Sydney Review of Books – a free online literary review that focuses on Australian writers and writing.

Dr James Ley, the editor of the Sydney Review of Books, says the project was born from a realisation that the avenues for literary criticism in the Australian media had become thinner in recent years.

“There are so few opportunities to write detailed and reflective literary essays for a mainstream audience,” says Dr Ley, a distinguished critic who recently graduated from UWS with a PhD on 'Literary Criticism in the Public Sphere'.

“I hope that the Sydney Review of Books, by providing a venue for this kind of writing, will encourage writers and readers to rediscover the art of criticism. If readers recognise the need for this kind of publication and get behind it, there is no reason why it can’t flourish.”

In the tradition of the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, the Sydney Review of Books is dedicated to long-form literary criticism.

The site will present extended essays by prominent critics and writers, examining recently published titles and placing them in relation to the authors’ work as a whole, and the larger issues which they bring into play.

There will also be a regular feature, ‘Critic Watch’, keeping a close eye on the practice of reviewers and the reception given to high-profile authors. Though the focus will be on Australian fiction, non-fiction and poetry, consideration will also be given to significant overseas literary titles.

The first release of essays is now online at

The contributors include Peter Pierce on Robert Drewe; Nicholas Jose on The Burning Library; Kerryn Goldsworthy on the Australian classic; Evelyn Juers on Michelle de Kretser; Delia Falconer on American novels of the Iraq war; Bernadette Brennan on Brian Castro; Lisa Gorton on Robert Gray; Ivor Indyk on Murray Bail; and Susan Sheridan on Alice Munro.

The Sydney Review of Books is an initiative of the Writing and Society Research Centre. For more information, email or


1 February 2013

Contact: Danielle Roddick, Senior Media Officer

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