Showing posts from July, 2014

Novelist Liam Davison among Australians killed on MH17

The devastation of a disaster like the shooting down of MH17 is indiscriminate and ruthless - with people of all walks of life cut off in an instance in the most horrific of circumstances. Australia's literary community is particular mindful of the loss of novelist Liam Davison, who with his his wife Frankie, a much-loved teacher, were passengers on the doomed flight. Mr Davison published eight books and was awarded the National Book Council's Banjo Award for Fiction in 1993 for Soundings , as well as being shortlisted for several literary prizes such as The Age Book of the Year Award and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award. Reviewer Perry Middlemiss said of Soundings: 'This is an impressive novel, short, and beautifully paced. Its concept of landscape lingers long in the mind, clinging on like the mud of the bay.' He is known for his 'sharp and perceptive insights into Australian history and landscape' and also taught writing for many y

Book review in brief: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

For an Australian author like Richard Flanagan, there is material enough for a great novel just telling of the lives and suffering of Australian prisoners of war during World War 2.  Even more so considering his father was just such a prisoner on the Burma railway, something Flanagan speaks of 'imbibing' while growing up. Instead he settles for a broader and more difficult panorama. Alongside the adept before and after descriptions of Australian soldiers - of love affairs and guilty confusion - we are also taken into the minds of Japanese officers and Korean soldiers and dystopian post-nuclear Japan. Somehow it all rings as true as his depictions of Melbourne society and Tasmanian poverty. The heat of Adelaide is pitched against the humidity of Siam and the unresolved heroics of an Australian surgeon against the inconclusive brutality of Japanese prison commander. It is not a triumphant book or a cheery one, and it offers little hope except that sometimes people surviv

Real time 'FingerReader' assists the visually impaired to read

Reading is as easy as pointing your finger at the text with the prototype FingerReader being developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Unlike other readers available for visually impaired people, which first need to process and translate text, the MIT finger reader reads in real time, and uses remarkable technology to assist the reader follow line after line. MIT's Professor Pattie Maes, who founded and leads the Fluid Interfaces research group developing the prototype, says the FingerReader is like "reading with the tip of your finger and it's a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now." Books, magazines, newspapers, computer screens and other devices can all be read comfottably with the FingerReader but a solution for touch screens is still being developed because of the disruption to text that occurs when the finger touches the screen. Vibrations help guide the reader's fin

Book review: I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

The obvious attraction of I Am Malala is the inside story of this young women's violent struggle with the Taliban but there are even greater, quieter wonders on offer for the patient reader. Malala Yousafzai tells her story with a refreshing lack of self-consciousness so that we are given not only a deeply personal insight into her own soul, but into the intricacies of her family and her troubled Swat homelands in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The entire world focused on one day of her life, Tuesday, October 9, 2012 when the high school student and campaigner for girls education, was shot by a member of the Taliban who also wounded two of her fellow students. The entire world has again focused on Malala with the announcement she is to jointly receive the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.* Although the book takes its time to provide satisfying detail as to the events of the day she was shot, there is no sense of frustrating delay as the reader is first intr