Every new book comes with a host of wildly enthusiastic quotes from early readers hailing the author and/or their work as The Next Big Thing. But what does this hype mean for readers hoping to find their next read? Enter the discerning literary critic, whose expert distillation of a book’s composition helps us to read between the lines and sort the ‘must reads’ from the ‘not for me’s’. Author and winner of the Walkley–Pascall Award for Arts Criticism Delia Falconer (Signs and Wonders: Dispatches from a time of beauty and loss), writer, essayist and poet Declan Fry, and writer and researcher Eda Gunaydin (Root and Branch) discuss the role of literary criticism in a world of hype.

Declan Fry (Australian)

Declan Fry

Born on Wongatha country in Kalgoorlie, Declan Fry has written for The Guardian, Overland, Australian Book Review, Liminal, Westerly and elsewhere. His Meanjin essay “Justice for Elijah or a Spiritual Dialogue with Ziggy Ramo, Dancing” received the 2021 Peter Blazey Fellowship and he has been shortlisted for the Judith Wright Poetry Prize. He currently lives with his partner, their pup Walnut, and a cat, Turnip. His latest story will appear in the forthcoming anthology Another Australia.

Delia Falconer (Australian)

Delia Falconer

Delia Falconer is the author of the novels The Service of Clouds and The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers and Sydney, a personal history of her hometown. Her writing has been widely anthologised and shortlisted for prizes across the fields of fiction, non-fiction, history, and biography. In 2018 she was awarded the 2018 Walkley-Pascall Award for Arts Criticism. Her fourth book, Signs and Wonders: Dispatches from a Time of Beauty and Loss was published in 2021.

Eda Gunaydin (Australian)

Eda Gunaydin

Eda Gunaydin is a Turkish-Australian writer and researcher interested in class, race and diaspora. Her essays and creative non-fiction can be found at Meanjin, Sydney Review of Books and The Lifted Brow. She has been shortlisted for a Queensland Literary Award and the Scribe Non-Fiction Prize. She is currently Contributing Editor at Sydney Review of Books, and her debut essay collection Root and Branch was published this year.