10 reads for book clubs in July
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Outside, there is San Francisco; also the Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living; and her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of her estranged mother. Inside is a new reality. Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line – until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence
Small Beauty by jiaqing wilson-yang
After the sudden death of her cousin, Mei abandons her life in the city to live in his empty house in the small town of Herbertsville. There she connects with his history as well as her own, discovers her aunt’s secret love, and reflects on the trans women she left behind. While navigating her selfimposed isolation, Mei brushes up against local mysteries and receives advice from departed loved ones. A complex tapestry of memory and revelation, Small Beauty is a stirring story that quietly roars.
This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman
Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was hanged less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime? Was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this more about society’s reaction to outsiders?
The Drover’s Wives by Ryan O'Neill
Henry Lawson’s ‘The Drover’s Wife’ is an Australian classic that has sparked interpretations on the page, on canvas and on the stage. But it has never been so thoroughly, or hilariously, reimagined as by Ryan O’Neill, remixing and revising Lawson’s masterpiece in 99 different ways. You’ll be amused, delighted and surprised by a Year 8 essay, a sporting commentary, a pop song, a Hollywood movie adaptation and many more. This is laugh-out-loud literature from the winner of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction.
Her Mother’s Daughter by Nadia Wheatley
Author Nadia Wheatley grew up in the crossfire between an independent woman and a controlling man. After her mother’s death, the ten-yearold began writing down the stories her mother had told her – of a Cinderella-like childhood followed by an escape into a career as an army nurse in Palestine and Greece, and as an aid-worker in the refugee camps of post-war Germany. Some 50 years later, the finished memoir is a loving tribute and an investigation of the bewildering processes of memory itself.
Antidote to a Curse by James Cristina
Silvio Portelli returns to Melbourne in the ’90s after teaching in England and rents a room from the charismatic octogenarian Nancy Triganza. Nancy is having an elaborate aviary constructed. At a city sex shop, Silvio meets the mysterious Zlatko, a Bosnian immigrant and former collector of rare birds. As Silvio waits for the results of his HIV tests, he becomes obsessed with Zlatko. This is a story in which the hunter becomes the hunted, the writer the subject, and vice versa.
A Coveted Possession by Michael Atherton
From the instruments that floated ashore at Sydney Cove in the late eighteenth century to the resurrection of derelict heirlooms in the streets of twenty-firstcentury Melbourne, A Coveted Possession tells the curious story of Australia’s relationship with the piano. It charts the piano’s fascinating adventures across Australia – on the goldfields, at the frontlines of war, in the manufacturing hubs of the Federation era, and in the hands of the makers, entrepreneurs, teachers and virtuosos of the twentieth century.
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
Louise is struggling to survive in New York. Juggling a series of poorly paid jobs and renting a shabby flat, she dreams of being a writer. And then one day she meets Lavinia, who has everything. Lavinia invites Louise into her charmed circle, takes her to the best parties, shares her clothes, her coke, her Uber account. Louise knows that this can’t last for ever, but just how far is she prepared to go to have this life? Or, rather, to have Lavinia’s life?
Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay
In this anthology, Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces by established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and are routinely bullied for speaking out. Not That Bad reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms, insisting that ‘not that bad’ must no longer be ‘good enough’. Like Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, Not That Bad will resonate with every reader.
Suicide Club by Rachel Heng
In the near future, thanks to medical technology HealthTechTM, immortality is within grasp. The Ministry is the all-powerful arbiter of healthcare resource allocation. Resources accrue to ‘lifers’, those predisposed for a healthy life well beyond a hundred years old. Non-lifers are known as ‘sub-100s’. The Suicide Club was originally a group of disillusioned lifers, indulging in forbidden activities: live music, traditional meals, irresponsible orgies etc. Now branded terrorists, anyone found guilty of wanting the right to die as they choose will find themselves condemned to immortality.