A stack of books: Year of Australian Writing

I've been silent around these parts for a little bit. Perhaps it's the slide into winter...the first six months of a new job...some holiday family time, and suddenly months have gone by. Not without a stack of books though - beside the bed and scattered across the kitchen table.

I thought I'd share one that kept me up in the small hours recently...

Night Games, by Anna Krien. I read this in a day and thought about it for a long time afterwards. Similar to the work of Helen Garner, Krien follows the Victorian 2010 trial of a footballer for alleged sexual assault of a young women in Victoria. Interwoven with astute description of the court proceedings, is analysis of the role of power, sport and sex in the world of Australian professional football codes.

The book takes on the most hallowed of institutions in our culture - not just professional sport, but AFL and Rugby League. Krien examines the vastly different roles of men and women in these codes. As mothers 'nurturing' sons and supporting them to play the game; as glamorous WAGS (wives and girlfriends of players) displayed at awards nights; or, as objects shared between team members after games. 

The book and its coverage of the sexual assault trial raises disturbing questions about the role of masculinity, perceived entitlement and power in elite male sporting culture. What she reveals is the belief that women are objects for footballer's sexual use, in a culture where adulation, power and misogyny combine with toxic results. 

What I found most interesting was Anna's questioning about what consensual sex actually is. She examines the legal definition of rape, and explores what she describes as the 'grey areas'. As she puts it, situations where alcohol or drugs are involved; group sex where there's a clear power imbalance between a single female and several male footballers; and times where consent might be initially given and then withdrawn. 

Aside from laying bare the toxic football culture in this country (a quick google search reveals over 50 allegations of rape made against footballers over the last decade, as reported in the Australian media), the book shines light on difficult questions. What does consent really mean? How is consent sought, given, and how do men in particular make sure that consent is continually and freely there? 

These are honest discussions I think we need to have with our kids, in our families and in our schools.  I found Night Games fascinating in terms of what it revealed about sport, power, sex, and who we put up on pedestals in our country.

A worthy short-lister on the 2014 Stella Prize list I thought, and definitely worth a read!

How about you, read any good books lately?

*Top photo "for the love of books" used courtesy of a Creative Commons license.


  1. This sounds like a really interesting read. I have read Garner's 2 murder trial books and thought that they were amazing, so it is a genre that I am quite into, when written well. I'll have to search it out!
    Dani @ sand has no home

    1. If you like Garner I think you could really enjoy Night Games. It opened up a whole new world for me I'm unfamiliar with, and the author's honesty about her uncertainties was terrific. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Lovely to see you back Pia - have missed you ! I am half way through Helen Garner's "House of Grief" so thanks for this recommendation - I enjoy these court room, nitty gritty accounts of murky lives so am sure I'll be similarly intrigued by Night Games. Have added it to the list !

  3. Thanks Ing great to hear from you too! I loved House of Grief but I had to put it down in bits and take little breaks. What a terrible story and how hard would it have been to follow the trial and write the story for the 10 or so years it took Garner? Thanks for dropping by!



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