DRYBURGH, James—essays, ‘Essays from Near and Far’



James Dryburgh’s Essays From Near and Far, reviewed by Sam Ryan in Right Now, 27th August 2014


James Dryburgh’s Essay’s From Near and Far is not a ‘human rights book’ per se. The constant thread running throughout this collection of essays is a reflection on the nature of humanity, in which consideration of human rights are an inescapable, essential component, and central to a number of the book’s articles.


Dryburgh presents a thoughtful and thought-provoking contemplation on the human condition, our relationships with each other and our collective, intertwined relationship with the environment. Personal reflections, stories and interviews span death to birth, tie lands and people on opposite sides of an ocean, and introduce a diverse assortment of people through whom we can understand our existence better.


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Essays on the fullness of life from a writer who faces its wonder and pain with open eyes, a listening heart and a skilful pen. James Dryburgh’s raw honesty, keen mind and earthy compassion mean that his every journey, whether it be near or far, becomes a gift to us all.

James Boyce, author of Van Diemen’s Land, 1835 and Born Bad.


Informative, dramatic, thought-provoking, immersed in questions of history, perspective and values, and thoroughly human.

Kevin Brophy, Professor in Creative Writing (University of Melbourne) and Author of thirteen books of poetry, fiction and essays.


In Essays from Near and Far, James Dryburgh manages to contextualise and illuminate the human condition. From South America to Tasmania his collection of essays reveal the motivations and beliefs of those who struggle against economic, historical and political injustices. He also succeeds in articulating his own soul and the reasons why he is drawn to the subjects explored. A great collection by an author not afraid to immerse himself and, quite literally, get his hands dirty in pursuit of the essential story in the tradition of the finest literary non-fiction.

John Martinkus, Journalist, Author and Academic.


These essays bring literature to the service of analysis and commentary. James asks big questions… James stands in the counter tradition, the Enlightenment tradition that mandates the hard light of fearless critique. We should all read this book. To do so is to encounter a prose of power and a fearless critical intelligence. This book is what the beautiful island’s incongruously deformed public life so desperately needs. I wish it a deep and fruitful absorption into the hearts and minds of my island’s folk.

Pete Hay, Poet, Author, Academic (taken from the Foreword to Essays from Near and Far)