Dear Reader, August 2020
The award given to an Unpublished Manuscript at the annual Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards has developed an excellent track record over the years for uncovering talent (alumni include Jane Harper, Christian White, and Melanie Cheng), and so it was with some expectation that I read Kokomo by Victoria Hannan, 2019’s award recipient. I was not disappointed: this impressive debut is a finely crafted piece of writing rich in ideas, and is our Fiction Book of the Month.
Speaking of prizes for unpublished manuscripts, Loner won its author, Georgina Young, 2019’s Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, and this satisfying coming-of-age novel will please YA and adult audiences alike. We also recommend new Australian writing from Charlotte McConaghy, Amanda Lohrey, and Kathleen Jennings.
Halle Butler’s The New Me was a sleeper hit amongst our staff last year, and we can’t wait to catch up on her first novel, Jillian, which is now available locally. Lots of folks will be awaiting the final instalment of Ali Smith’s seasons quartet, Summer. Kate Reed Petty is getting a lot of attention in the US already with her novel, True Story, and our reviewer wanted to reread it immediately. Meanwhile, David Mitchell’s cult following should already be at the rereading stage with Utopia Avenue (if not, hop to it!).
New novels are also out this month from James McBride, Kristen Hannah, DBC Pierre, Emma Donoghue, Carys Davies, Daisy Johnson, and a collection of short stories from award-winning Indian author Jayant Kaikini. And, are you fully prepped to read Edward Cullen’s half of the story in Stephenie Meyer’s hotly anticipated Midnight Sun? (If that description doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry – the Twilight fever of the 2000s passed me by too.)
In Nonfiction, we have a wonderful piece of writing about forests and walking by John Blay, Wild Nature, which our reviewer says is a ‘balm for the frustrated urge’ to visit nature she feels during our time in lockdown (a feeling I share). Paddy Manning’s Body Count uncovers the human costs of the climate emergency: increasing mortality rates worldwide. Our reviewers also recommend Christopher Raja’s memoir of migration, Into the Suburbs, Merlin Sheldrake’s book about fungi, Entangled Life, and Philippe Sands’s The Ratline. Also out later this month is Pattie Lees’ memoir, A Question of Colour, as well as new writing from Masha Gessen, Zadie Smith, Tim Parks, Richard Fidler, Hugh Mackay, Sam Harris, and Frédéric Gros.
I think we could all do with some tips from Eddie Jaku at the moment, whose lessons from his remarkable 100-year life are recorded in The Happiest Man on Earth. I have a small collection of books about collections, so this month I’ll be adding a copy of The Museum of Whales You Will Never See.
And finally, dear reader, Father’s Day is not until September, but given everything that’s going on, we think it’s wise to plan ahead, so we’ve put together some gift suggestions. Make sure you place your orders of in-stock items online by 5pm on Friday 14 August, or phone one of our stores for further assistance – you can find all the individual shop phone numbers here.