Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > Griffith Review 65: Crimes & Punishments

Griffith Review 65 by Ashley Hay
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it was amazing
bookshelves: australian-author, australian-womens-writers-challenge, librarybooks

‘The last convict transported to and incarcerated in Australia was released from Freemantle Prison in 1906.’

Over two hundred years of European settlement in Australia: an island continent colonised as a penal settlement. And in the Griffith Review 65, we have a collection of pieces: poems, stories, and photographs about crime, justice and punishment (for, surely, justice and punishment are not always the same).

And what about Manus Island? There’s a conversation between Behrouz Boochani and his translator Omid Tofighian about incarceration where Manus Island is effectively Manus Prison and has been for years.

‘Another island; another prison; another landscape of impossible beauty alongside newly limitless retributions and penalties. Another story of our crimes and punishments.’

I’m a frequent reader of Griffith Review, depending on the content. This is an edition I particularly wanted to read: I read a lot of crime fiction and I read a lot of true crime. This edition of Griffith Review showcases works of fiction and non-fiction and is edited by Ashley Hay. The writers include Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian, Matthew Condon, Gideon Haigh, Ross Homel, Amy McQuire, Paul Mazerolle, Kristina Olsson, Sally Piper, and Bill Wilkie.

Each of the pieces made me think. I’ve read a number of Matthew Condon’s books and found his piece about how his own dark childhood memories were made worse during his research arising from the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Reading Catherine Ford’s piece about the impact of being a court transcriber reminded me that it is not only direct participants who can be traumatised. And Gideon Haigh’s reportage about a case of incest (‘This is how I will strangle you’) moved me to tears.

As I read, I wondered about why I (and others) are so fascinated by crime stories. There is a (comparatively) safe retreat in fiction which is not echoed by the way in which crimes happen in the real world. Humans are complex organisms.

And this is not just about individual stories and cases, there are also pieces on how the justice system works (or doesn’t). Aboriginal incarceration is one of the issues covered in a couple of pieces. In one piece, dealing with how the justice system works in remote areas, people are sometimes pleading guilty (when they are not) to have a case dealt with quickly. In these cases, our system is surely failing. There’s also a piece by Karen Viggers on environmental crime.

I’ll conclude by escaping to the relative safety of fiction. I particularly enjoyed Lucy Sussex’s ‘The Sin Room’ and Mandy Sayer’s ‘Visiting Day’.

Two hundred and thirty-one years have elapsed since the European settlement of Australia as a penal colony. I’m not sure that we can measure our progress in elapsed years. I wish we could.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Reading Progress

August 17, 2019 – Started Reading
August 17, 2019 – Shelved
August 17, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-author
August 17, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-womens-writers-challenge
August 17, 2019 – Shelved as: librarybooks
August 18, 2019 –
page 55
August 20, 2019 –
page 138
August 21, 2019 –
page 212
August 22, 2019 – Finished Reading

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