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5 new books loved by our fiction expert!

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A new voice has emerged in Australian fiction with one of the most highly anticipated books of the year. Sophie Hardcastle’s Below Deck is a tender, poetic, almost hypnotic coming of age story. Reading Hardcastle’s prose feels like going on a spacewalk – a curious weightlessness combined with acute sensation, filled with distortions of light and sound. It’s unique and exhilarating. Read it and you’ll see I mean.

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Review: Below Deck by Sophie Hardcastle

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“I scream not in the way the damsel in distress screams from the tower. I scream the way tectonic plates tear apart on the ocean floor, silt and sand and cracked rock. Lava spewing from the abyss. Hot lava spewing from me. I roar.”
Sophie Hardcastle’s Below Deck is the kind of book that cracks open your heart, then knits it back together, leaving you scarred. It sears a place in your memory, not only because of its characters and the legacy of trauma experienced by its protagonist, but because of Hardcastle’s luminous prose and quite brilliant implementation of colour. The savagery of its subject belies the beauty of its writing. It’s a powerful, unforgettable synthesis; a painfully page-turning read, a vividly three-dimensional, lacerating dissection of female abuse at the hands of men.

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Seeing Violence in Multiple Shades: Sophie Hardcastle’s Below Deck

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Sophie Hardcastle’s debut novel has attracted significant attention, with international rights already taken up and celebrated by Allen & Unwin UK, the same publishers releasing it here in Australia. The novel has also been endorsed by several significant figures, including Brooke Davis, Clementine Ford and Bri Lee. Attention like this, while nice to see growing around a new Australian author, always makes me a little nervous when the work in question is dealing with sensitive and intricate topics. Hardcastle’s debut is nuanced in its approach to questions of sexual abuse and trauma, but these things still risk sensationalism in both media and social discourse. They are also themes with high stakes for any living with the reality of sexual violence.

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Escapade Media collars Nepalese doc

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The Tharus Evolution is produced by Alexandre Montalto. Australian distributor Escapade Media has secured worldwide rights to a documentary that provides rare insights into one of the world’s oldest civilisations, the Tharus.
Produced by French filmmaker Alexandre Montalto, The Tharus Evolution (1×60’) examines the culture and traditions of the Tharu people who settled in southern Nepal and northern India.

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