Citizens of nowhere: This Strange Eventful History, by Claire Messud, reviewed

Any personal history is hard to fictionalise, not least because the story needs to be both universal and unique. Claire Messud manages to find the right balance in her latest novel, reconstructing her family’s past in vivid episodes that open a multitude of windows on to the world. Continents and decades chase one another as the narrative traces the movements of the Cassar family. Hailing from Algeria, for much of the book they are citizens of nowhere. Their tribulations begin in 1940, when Lucienne and her children, François and Denise, flee Greece (where their father, Gaston, has been posted as the French naval attaché) to wait out the war in

Heartbreak in the workplace: Green Dot, by Madeleine Gray, reviewed

Hera, the heroine of Madeleine Gray’s first novel, is 24, which, as she says, ‘seems young to most people but not to people in their mid-twenties’. She lives in Sydney with her father and their dog and works as an online community moderator, but the contents of her work bag reveal her to be Bridget Jones’s edgier little sister: ‘My wallet, three pairs of underpants, headphones, nine tampons, a travel vibrator, two novels, a notebook, two beer caps, a bottle of sake and a fountain pen.’ She will also inevitably be compared to Hannah from Lena Dunham’s Girls and to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. Gray’s writing style is droll but if

Shame on the Cardinal Pell funeral protesters

In Sydney today, the LGBT movement had its Westboro Baptist Church moment. It protested at someone’s funeral. Like that cranky religious sect in the US that noisily demonstrates at the funerals of soldiers, LGBT activists waved placards calling the deceased a ‘monster’ and ‘scum’. They chanted for him to ‘go to hell’. ‘Burn in hell’, said one banner. ‘Nonce’, said another. It was a truly disturbing spectacle. A new low in identity politics. It was Cardinal Pell’s funeral. Pell was Australia’s most important Catholic leader. He served as Archbishop of Melbourne and later as Archbishop of Sydney. He then went to Rome where he was Secretariat for the Economy in