Australian Labyrinths: Julie Koh’s Portable Curiosities

Reading in the New Year for the AWW2017 Challenge

Reading in the New Year for the AWW2017 Challenge

This review is part of the AWW2017 Challenge


Julie Koh’s uproariously funny and deeply unsettling debut full-length short story collection is a biting satire of contemporary Australia. An insightful, witty, and highly original collection, standouts include the deliciously dark Cream Reaper – where ice-cream becomes a game of russian roulette – and the wonderfully absurd and melancholically lonely Slow Death in Cat Cafe where a morning wait for a coffee date ends in a secessionist movement.

It’s a difficult task to constantly surprise your reader, and Koh approaches her subject matter with an eye for the absurd in the everyday. I read this collection a while ago, but it has stayed with me in the way that the work of Borges, Calvino, and Levi does. It is a haunting collection that perfectly executes a scathing critique of the systemic racism and sexism of contemporary Australia while making you laugh out loud – and that is no easy task.

I cannot recommend this collection strongly enough. Koh is a writer to watch, and it will be wonderful to see her work develop over the course of what promises to be a sensational career.

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