Mark Rubbo

Mark_bigthumb

Twitter: @markrubbo

Mark Rubbo is Managing Director of Readings. He is a past president of the Australian Booksellers Association and was founding chair of the Melbourne Writers Festival. In 2006 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia “For service to the community through fostering an awareness of Australian literature as a bookseller, literary critic, and promoter and supporter of Australian writers.”

Reviews

Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

We know Helen Garner best for her novels and her harrowing dissections of human dramas. She has a way of describing the world with such wisdom and candour and, sometimes, delight, that it takes one’s…

Read more ›

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

This is a short but profoundly moving and powerful book. Kalanithi, a young and brilliant neurosurgeon, is confronted by what proves to be his own terminal cancer. In his undergraduate days he had co…

Read more ›

Second Half First by Drusilla Modjeska

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Most of us, I imagine, reflect only fleetingly on our lives, and few of us, thank god, do it in print, but when a writer of Drusilla Modjeska’s skill does it is something very special. Second Half Fi

Read more ›

Island Home by Tim Winton

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

This book reveals two Tim Wintons. There is the wordsmith we feel we already know well through his renowned and evocative fiction, but this book also reveals a person who thinks very deeply about his…

Read more ›

Under Cover: Adventures in the Art of Editing by Craig Munro

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

University of Queensland Press (UQP) is a fine independent publisher but from the early 70s to the late 90s in particular it really punched above its weight. At one time or another, its stable of aut…

Read more ›

Sweet Caress by William Boyd

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

There’s a small group of us at Readings who are great fans of William Boyd, with one of my colleagues claiming his Any Human Heart as one of her favourite books. Boyd is a master storyteller who weav…

Read more ›

A Guide to Berlin by Gail Jones

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

I’ve always felt that Gail Jones is yet to receive the recognition she deserves. This is her sixth novel and it is, I believe, a masterpiece. It is a beautifully constructed novel that builds slowly …

Read more ›

The Mothers by Rod Jones

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

I vividly remember Rod Jones’ 1986 novel Julia Paradise, the story of a Scottish psychoanalyst and his eponymous patient set in pre-war China. It quite justifiably caused a sensation with its explora…

Read more ›

Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Last night I went to I Gradi for pizza with my son. It was an easy decision for Joe and me to make and we enjoyed the pizzas very much. You, possibly, think I should have written ‘Joe and I’. Well, t…

Read more ›

The Life of Houses by Lisa Gorton

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

The Sydney Morning Herald once described Lisa Gorton as ‘one of the most sensuous and cerebral of Australian poets’, praise that could equally apply to her first novel, The Life of Houses. Gorton is …

Read more ›

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

This is an horrific and tragic book; it is an account of one the most devastating mass shootings in recent history. In July, 2011, Anders Breivik detonated a home made bomb in front of the Norwegian …

Read more ›

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Anne Tyler writes about families; usually they are quite ordinary, middle-class families. They might have a few quirks but mostly they, like the rest of us, are trying to navigate their lives as best…

Read more ›

Charlie’s Country

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Charlie (David Gulpilil) lives in a small community in Arnhem Land. A sequence of events, funny yet sadly moving, drive him to eschew the community and go bush. But even he can’t survive in the bush …

Read more ›

Amnesia by Peter Carey

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Despite its more serious subtext, Amnesia is a very funny book and is Peter Carey at the height of his powers. I read it a second time because I wanted to savour it again for its structure and its wr…

Read more ›

Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy by Sophie Cunningham

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

It’s almost 40 years since Cyclone Tracy destroyed the northern city of Darwin on the night of 24 December, 1974. Australia had not known a natural disaster like it since European colonisation. Seven…

Read more ›

Lygon Street - Si Parla Italiano

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Surely everyone loves Italy and the Italians; the country has given us pasta, pizza, coffee, and, of course, Lygon Street in Melbourne. Lygon Street – Si Parla Italiano is a delightful homage to the …

Read more ›

The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama by Julie Szego

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

In 2008, a young Somali man was convicted of the rape of a 48-year-old woman at a Doncaster nightclub. The woman had been found unconscious in a locked toilet cubicle with her pants down: she had no …

Read more ›

A Mad And Wonderful Thing by Mark Mulholland

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

It’s a strange irony that Bernard McGinn died of natural causes just a few months or so back; Mcginn was part of an IRA group of snipers based in South Armagh, Northern Ireland, on the Irish border. …

Read more ›

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

My Promised Land is a profoundly inspiring and challenging book. It is an intensely personal impression of a country, for which the writer has intense admiration and affection but also grave misgivin…

Read more ›

Coal Creek by Alex Miller

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Alex Miller migrated to Australia when he was only 16 and his first job was as a ringer in outback Queensland. That early experience in the Australian outback informs a number of his works, including…

Read more ›

Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

I heard Andrew Solomon talk about his book earlier this year at the Jaipur Literature Festival. He was so inspirational that I had to buy it. In 1993 Solomon was asked by the New York Times to write …

Read more ›

Gotland by Fiona Capp

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

In 2009, Fiona Capp spent part of a summer at the Baltic Writers and Translators Centre in Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland. Her time there has provided an exotic and compelling backdrop for he…

Read more ›

No Safe Place by Jenny Spence

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Elly Cartwright writes software manuals for Soft Serve. On returning home one evening after having a meeting with Carlos, the company’s brilliant and reclusive programmer, her Brunswick neighbour is …

Read more ›

Life in Ten House by Sonya Hartnett

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Coming in at just over 70 pages, this latest addition to the Penguin Specials range is an evocative glimpse into a writer’s life.

Sonya Hartnett’s has been a rather peripatetic one, having lived in …

Read more ›

Left Hand Drive by Craig McGregor

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Craig McGregor is a writer and academic whose career has spanned many years and many iterations. He started as a journalist in the early 60s, wrote books on contemporary Australia, became a freelance…

Read more ›

Amrita Sher-Gil: A Life by Yashodhara Dalmia

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

Amrita Sher-Gil was born in Budapest in 1913. Her mother was Hungarian and her father was from a noble Sikh family. The family lived in Hungary, India and Italy at various points. From an early age, …

Read more ›

The Memory Trap by Andrea Goldsmith

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

It’s been three years since Andrea Goldsmith’s Reunion, a big, bold work. In both Reunion and her new novel, The Memory Trap, relationships, family, ambition, lust and goodness come together to make …

Read more ›

Boomer & Me by Jo Case

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

When Leo starts school, his mum starts to notice little things that make him stand out. His first teacher calls him gifted; his reading and verbal skills are very advanced. But, as time goes on, othe…

Read more ›

The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

When they arrive in the town of Novilla, a child and a man are directed to a building with a large sign in Spanish that reads ‘Resettlement Centre’. The man seems to have had his memory wiped from hi…

Read more ›

The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

Reviewed by Mark Rubbo

At a large airport, people might mingle, join queues and follow instructions peacefully, and it’s most likely that they won’t know anyone else around. In traditional societies, those kinds of intera…

Read more ›

News

Mark’s Say, April 2016

by Mark Rubbo

One of the highlights of the past month for me was hearing indigenous journalist Stan Grant talk about his new book, Talking to My Country at one of our events. Grant is a remarkable and charismatic communicator; he is able to convey what it is like to be black in an overwhelmingly European country, to suffer a thousand cuts and small indignities. His strength is that he does this without bittern…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say, March 2016

by Mark Rubbo

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day and it’s appropriate that the longlist for the UK Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced in the same month, on the 8th of March. The Bailey’s Prize was established in 1996 as The Orange Prize, and in 2001 Australian Kate Grenville’s The Idea of Perfection won the prize, beating works by Ali Smith and Margaret Atwood. The Bailey’s Prize w…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say, February 2016

by Mark Rubbo

Those of you who know me will be well aware of how pleased I am with The Readings Foundation and the projects it supports. Since we started in 2009, we’ve given away almost $1 million. The money comes from Readings’ profits, some private donations, and the gold coin donations our customers make when we gift-wrap their purchases. The gift-wrap donations alone add up to around $25,000 per annum. Th…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say, November 2015

by Mark Rubbo

One of the pleasures of my job is meeting authors and hearing about their books – and as most booksellers and authors do enjoy a drink, we often meet in most convivial surroundings. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sydney author David Dyer, whose first novel, The Midnight Watch, will be published by Penguin Random House in March next year. It’s an historical story based on the sinkin…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say, October 2015

by Mark Rubbo

Have you noticed those cool-looking books with the yellow spine and the Text Publishing colophon? Officially known as Text Classics, at only $12.95 they’re a chance for any of us to discover our literary history and some very good books as well. The series was launched in 2012 with 30 titles and now has about 100 in print.

I asked Text publisher Michael Heyward where he got the idea from and he …

Read more ›

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day

by Mark Rubbo

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day. Between 40% and 60% of Indigenous children living in very remote locations across WA, SA and NT are achieving below minimum standards in Reading in Year 3. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is working to raise the literacy levels of Indigenous Australians living in remote communities by providing access to educational materials, getting culturally appropri…

Read more ›