Belle’s Reading List

Our new editor of Readings Monthly, Belle Place, shares her current reading list with us.


I have been reading Dalmon Galgut’s quietly frightening In a Strange Room. Presented in three parts, the book follows a lone traveller, also named Dalmon, as he moves through India, Greece and Africa. Each part is punctuated with a devastating conclusion, which I won’t hint at here, but I loved the slow burn of story through each section: unsettling and very satisfying. His writing style is equally hypnotic. I think that Galgut has perfectly captured that particular strain of alienation that travellers can experience, and Dalmon’s encounters with others – a fellow lone traveller, a group of backpackers, a lover – are strange and brilliant. It’s quite a short read, maybe best enjoyed in a single sitting if you have the time.

To local fiction, I’ve been reading an advance copy of Alexis Wright’s new novel, The Swan Book, which comes out this August. Set in the future, it tells the story of a mute teenager, Oblivia Ethylene, who is removed from her existence in a junk-filled swamp to marry Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia. So far, I love Wright’s charged, fiery writing, and creation of landscapes that are ripe with fairy tale but still eerily familiar. There’s also much humour, and the descriptions of the swans, which feature as omnipresent guardians of the central character, are particularly beautiful.

To TV, and while I’m admittedly feeling a little politics fatigued in the Rudd vs. Gillard fallout, I am obsessed with the Danish political drama, Borgen. Early in the first season, savvy-lady Brigitte Nyborg becomes Denmark’s first female prime minister, and what I’m liking best is the keen eye the show casts on the role of her spin doctor, and the influence of the 24-hour news cycle. The sub-plot of the central character’s home lives, particularly how Nyborg’s new role impinges on her marriage and family, are making for juicy, gritty viewing.

I’d like to add how pleased I am to find a new home at the helm of the Readings Monthly. Jessica Au leaves an insightful, entertaining and handsome publication as she heads north to the wooden mountains (as I imagine it) of the Balkans. The second half of the year promises a bounty of must-reads, and I very much look forward to being a part of sharing them with you.

Belle Place is the editor of Readings Monthly.