Australian books for lovers of weird fiction

Why would anyone want to read a ‘normal’ book when they could read a weird one? We’ve put together a list of surreal, mind-bending, reality-shattering, odd and impossible stories for readers who prefer to keep things interesting.


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Mammoth by Chris Flynn

Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct American mastodon, Mammoth is the (mostly) true story of how the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy and the narrator himself came to be on sale at a 2007 natural history auction in Manhattan. Ranging from the Pleistocene Epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, this book traverses time and place to reveal humanity’s role in the inexorable destruction of the natural world.


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Rubik by Elizabeth Tan

Elena Rubik can’t seem to stay dead. She persists: as a set of corneas, as a newsletter subscriber, as a member of fanfiction forums. Her best friend Jules Valentine meanwhile is unwittingly inveigled into an indie-film turned corporate branding stunt. When Jules leaks information about the true story behind the video - by then an overworked viral meme - wannabe investigative reporter April Kuan is assigned the case. But as April trails Jules all over Perth she too becomes ensnared in the machinations of shady corporate interests as the very laws of physics and time begin to bend.


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Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau

Monk lives in Chinatown with her washed-up painter father. When Santa Coy - possible boyfriend, potential accomplice - enters their lives, an intoxicating hunger consumes their home. So begins a heady descent into art, casino resorts, drugs, vacant swimming pools, religion, pixelated tutorial videos, and senseless violence. In bursts of fizzing, staccato and claustrophobic prose, this modern Australian take on the classic hard-boiled novel bounces you between pulverised English, elastic Cantonese and the new dialect of a digitised world.


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Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey

The souls of ten animals caught up in human conflicts over the last century tell their astonishing stories of life and death. In a trench on the Western Front a cat recalls her owner Colette’s theatrical antics in Paris. In Nazi Germany a dog seeks enlightenment. And a dolphin sent to Iraq by the US Navy writes a letter to Sylvia Plath. An animal’s-eye view of humans at our brutal, violent worst and our creative, imaginative best, this book asks us to find our way back to empathy not only for animals, but for other people.


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Inappropriation by Lexi Freiman

Starting at a prestigious private Australian girls' school, fifteen-year-old Ziggy Klein is confronted with an alienating social hierarchy that hurls her into the arms of her grade’s most radical feminists. But as PC culture collides with her friends' morphing ideology and her parents' kinky sex life, Ziggy’s understanding of gender, race, and class begins to warp. Ostracised at school, she seeks refuge in Donna Haraway’s seminal feminist text, A Cyborg Manifesto, and discovers an indisputable alternative identity. Or so she thinks.


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Shirl by Wayne Marshall

A lonely yowie emerges from the bush to attend the Desperate and Dateless Ball. Mysterious creatures descend from the sky to place a ban on footy. A shark named Bruce turns up in the local swimming pool. In Shirl, Wayne Marshall takes a range of what-if scenarios to their fabulist and comedic extremes. Superbly inventive and powerful, these fourteen stories skewer contemporary Australian society in insightful and yet hilarious ways, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.


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Flames by Robbie Arnott

A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte, who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire. The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle.


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Heat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven

Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a three-part journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real, taking traditional storytelling and giving it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, van Neerven offers a futuristic imagining of a people whose existence is under threat. While in ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.


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From the Wreck by Jane Rawson

From the Wreck tells the remarkable story of George Hills, who survived the sinking of the steamship Admella off the South Australian coast in 1859. Haunted by his memories and the disappearance of a fellow survivor, George’s fractured life is intertwined with that of a woman from another dimension, seeking refuge on Earth. This is a novel imbued with beauty and feeling, filled both with existential loneliness and a deep awareness that all life is interdependent.


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Portable Curiosities by Julie Koh

A young girl sees ghosts from her third eye, located where her belly button should be. A one-dimensional yellow man steps out of a cinema screen, hoping to lead a three-dimensional life. A journalist goes on assignment to report the latest food trend, which turns ice-cream eating into an extreme sport. In the twelve stories contained in Portable Curiosities, Julie Koh re-imagines our world with a dark, satirical twist. She combines absurd humour with searing critiques on contemporary society - the rampant consumerism, the casual misogyny, the insidious fear of those who are different.


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The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay

Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Working as a guide in an outback wildlife park, Jean hears news of a strange pandemic sweeping the country that allows humans to understand the language of animals. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son, Lee. When he takes off with Kimberly, heading south, Jean feels the pull to follow her kin.


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A Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer

Jeff is dying. Haunted by memories and grappling with shame, he runs away to remote Scotland with a piece of experimental tech that allows him to enter the mind of someone in the past. In the late 1860s, Leonora lives a contented life in the Scottish Highlands. Contemplating her future and the social conventions that bind her, a secret romantic friendship with the local laird is interrupted when her father sends her to stay with her aunt in Edinburgh. But Leonora’s ability to embrace her new life is shadowed by a dark presence that begins to lurk behind her eyes, and strange visions that bear no resemblance to anything she has ever seen or known…

Mammoth

Mammoth

Chris Flynn

$29.99Buy now

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