Dear Reader, June 2019

When Tony Birch comes into the shop, I’m always keen to hear what he is reading. He reads extensively, widely, and thoughtfully, and that’s the way I believe his new novel, The White Girl, will be read too. This wonderfully crafted piece of writing is such an effective and affecting account of 1960s Australia because it has an historian’s eye for detail paired with the dramatic restraint of a born storyteller. It’s our Book of the Month, and I just loved it. Tony’s publisher, UQP, has two other notable releases this month, both of them incredibly strong debuts: Amanda O’Callaghan’s arresting short story collection, This Taste for Silence; and Elizabeth Kuiper’s novel of growing up in Zimbabwe, Little Stones. What a great month of publishing, UQP! We also recommend Alex Landragin’s ambitious Crossings; the winner of the inaugural Penguin Literary Prize (a new award for an unpublished manuscript), Kathryn Hind’s Hitch; and Dominic Smith’s The Electric Hotel, the follow up to the international bestseller, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.

In international fiction, you’ll know that you need to catch up on Jeanette Winterson’s latest creation, Frankissstein, Kate Atkinson’s next Jackson Brodie installment, Big Sky, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s hotly anticipated City of Girls, but two more great reviews will also convince you to read books from Niven Govinden (This Brutal House) and Elif Shafak (10 Years 38 Seconds in This Strange World) too. I loved Virginia Reeves’s debut, Work Like Any Other, and her second novel, The Behaviour of Love, is close to the top of my teetering bedside pile. Poet Ocean Vuong has a fan in Max Porter, and since I’m keenly listening to anything Max Porter says, Vuong’s debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, is on that pile too. I also need to catch up on the happenings of Mona (star of Jen Beagin’s fabulous Pretend I’m Dead): her story continues in Vacuum in the Dark.

Science journalist Angela Saini made an impact with Inferior, her examination of the ways in which misinformation about differences between the sexes proliferates. This month she turns her attention to the disturbing renaissance of ‘race science’ in our Nonfiction Book of the Month, Superior. Patrice Newell’s Who’s Minding the Farm? is an important contribution to work on climate crisis, this time with a focus on agriculture and land care. Alan Krueger’s Rockonomics convincingly uses the music industry as a bellwether case study for global economics at large. I’m currently reading Luke Carman’s sometimes hilarious and always provocative essay collection, Intimate Antipathies. As a devotee of Faber’s publishing, I’m keen to read the inside story of that house, Faber & Faber. Also out this month are memoirs from Geoffrey Blainey, Georgie Dent, and Peter Papathanasiou, and a major collection of Arundhati Roy’s political essays.

And finally, dear reader, I adore reading classics, and lament there are so many that I haven’t read. Perhaps you feel this way too, and will take advantage of this month’s 3 for 2 offer on a range of titles in the Penguin Modern Classics series.


Alison Huber is the head book buyer at Readings.

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The White Girl

The White Girl

Tony Birch

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