BROTHERS & SISTERS
12 of Australia's finest writers explore the sibling experience
'Your brother or sister, it might be said, is your other self - your grander, sadder, braver, shrewder, uglier, slenderer self ... Your sibling is your most severe judge and your fiercest defender. You must always rescue them. They always abandon you ... You recognise one another, this is your relief and your ruin. They are your duty. They stun you with the sudden presence and force of their goodness. They give you Christmas presents that show you are strangers. You are strangers. You love them; it cannot be explained why or how.'
- from the Introduction, Charlotte Wood
A girl sneaks into her brothers’ rooms to rummage through their pockets while they’re out. A man boards a plane to go to his brother’s funeral. Another man’s brother comes home from jail. A young woman watches her sister embrace life and London while she is left behind. Two girls compete for the colour pink and their father’s love.
Trespass and abandonment, old secrets and new truths, rivalry and protection, love and fear: twelve of Australia’s best writers tell surprising stories of the abiding bonds—bad, beautiful or broken— between brothers and sisters.
Critics and readers alike have long commented on Charlotte Wood's acute ability to dissect sibling relationships in her novels. Lifelong resentments, tensions, alliances and affections between brothers and sisters play out in her books to brilliant effect. Here, Charlotte brings her skills to an anthology of newly-commissioned stories by well-known and new writers - Nam Le, Christos Tsiolkas, Tony Birch, Tegan Bennett Daylight, Robert Drewe, Ashley Hay, Cate Kennedy, Roger McDonald, Paddy O'Reilly, Virginia Peters, Michael Sala, Charlotte Wood - who have written about the sister/brother relationships, both in fictional and non-fictional forms.
Charlotte Wood speaks about Brothers & Sisters on The Book Show, ABC Radio National - listen or download audio here.
Interview with Ramona Koval, Nov 4, 2009
"Whether or not we define ourselves as being close or distant, bound by blood, or by friendship or both, the relationship between siblings, a relationship imposed and inescapable, forged out of proximity and DNA, is impossibly complex, our feelings for one another frequently confused, equivocal. This ambivalence, characterised by a constant struggle between the self and this sometimes too-close other, is powerfully evoked in many of the stories in Brothers and Sisters..."
- Wendy James, Australian Literary Review
"Just as several contributing authors have solid track records of writing about family with insight and compassion, a canny exploration of the sibling dynamic is perhaps the signature of editor Charlotte Wood, author of three novels. The Miles Franklin-shortlisted The Submerged Cathedral, for example, looks at sisterly love and rivalry. Her own contribution to Brothers & Sisters, The Cricket Palace, takes a similar path in describing the fractured relationship between two very different sisters of advanced years, as they holiday in Greece. A somewhat enigmatic, occasionally dream-like tale of love, loss and identity, and the pull, perhaps as inevitable as the tide, that siblings have on our very being, it neatly encapsulates the essence of this memorable, and at times moving, collection."
- Patricia Maunder, The Sunday Age
'Sibling love doesn't always play so sweetly, but whatever its course, it is a perennial fascination. This collection of 12 stories chosen by Charlotte Wood (author of The Submerged C'athedral), who has also written one of the stories, is an inquiry into that concept "sibling". The concept "Australian" is as much a commonality as the sibling thence - there's something about the voice. Comment on the invigorating quality of the Australian light is commonplace: its clarity and strength, a shimmering transluscence rather than depth. These Australian voices have a similar notable quality: tough, open, sensitive, but not over-refined ... strong and diverse tales about the perversities and pleasures of siblings, while Ashley Hay goes out to bat for the single child. Really, the theme is just an excuse to show off all this talent. A refreshing and strong collection."
- Helen Elliott, The Age, November 28 2009
'This little book is a keeper; it's also a potential teaching anthology. I now have a whole list of names of writers whose books I want to read ... Here's a volume of human stories, told in language as clear as stream water. "
- Cynthia Shearer, author The Wonder Book of the Air, The Celestial Jukebox, Thimblewicket Nov 24 2009
" Wood has intentionally added new literary lights in the collection, lending the book balance and freshness ... Christos Tsiolkas's story about a man having to return to his brother's property and provide his eulogy is so touching it was almost painful to read ... This is a worthy collection to give as a gift to one who bears the unmistakably similar strands of DNA as yourself."
- The Courier Mail, Saturday Novr 21 2009
"Almost everyone is a brother or sister or wants to know what it's like to have one, and the rivalries and resentments and the powerful, persistent love show through each of these stories like a watermark."
- Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday November 21 2009
“This collection of stories by some well-known and some fresh Australian voices deserves a prominent place. It’s a measure of the strength of the form, and of the calibre of contemporary Australian writers using it, that the writing is keen, sharp and challenging."
- David Gaunt, Australian Bookseller & Publisher, Nov 2009
"I've been a fan of Charlotte Wood's since I read her novel The Children, in which she shows great interest in the sibling dynamic and great skill in representing it, an impression further borne out by the brilliant, funny, moving introduction to this new book. "
- Kerryn Goldsworthy, Still Life with Cat (blog)