Dear Reader, May 2021

Jamie Marina Lau was shortlisted for the 2018 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction for her standout debut, Pink Mountain on Locust Island. This unique novel won the author many fans, with many of our staff among its greatest champions. Lau’s follow-up is the brilliantly titled Gunk Baby. Largely set in the hermetic world of a shopping centre, this clever narrative is cut through with incisive critiques of consumer culture and commentary on the hard work it takes to be in the company of other people. Lau’s is an exciting and distinctive voice, and Gunk Baby is our Fiction Book of the Month. Also out this month are Australian debuts from Clare Moleta, Hugh Breakey, and Angela O’Keeffe, and an historical epic from Anita Heiss. The Sweatshop literacy movement from Western Sydney has produced an excellent new anthology on the topic of racism. Ellen van Neerven has edited another anthology to watch out for – Flock, a collection of short fiction by First Nations writers.

In international news, our reviewers recommend the new work from Rachel Cusk, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jon McGregor, Jeff VanderMeer, Sunjeev Sahota, Maggie Shipstead and Rahul Raina. There’s much else besides, but I’m definitely on the lookout for the new novel by Robert Seethaler (I loved A Whole Life). If you have missed reading the magnificent Shuggie Bain (famous for winning the 2020 Booker Prize, as well as being The Last Book I Read Before the Pandemic Began), it’s out in a new edition this month. It’s exciting that a couple of our resident staff experts/artists have reviewed two books in graphic format this month: Two-Week Wait and Still Alive. Our poetry enthusiast this month recommends Lucy Van’s The Open.

Kathryn Heyman’s memoir, Fury, is our Nonfiction Book of the Month. The timing of this outstanding example of life writing couldn’t be more apposite. As a young woman, Heyman’s experience as the victim in a sexual assault trial compounded her trauma, setting her on a path of self-discovery that is unusual and compellingly told. This well- crafted book is a voice of reckoning, and a gift for readers whose collective fury has been galvanising in recent months. Also out this month is Kaya Wilson’s anticipated memoir, As Beautiful as Any Other, which our reviewer calls courageous and stunning; Kate Holden’s wide-ranging investigation into the killing of environmental officer, Glen Turner, The Winter Road, compared favourably here to the great works of crime reportage; Stranger Care from the original hand of Sarah Sentilles, who takes readers deep into her experience of being a foster carer; and Krissy Kneen’s intimate memoir of family history, The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen.

Stan Grant has written a blistering provocation for Black Inc.’s Writers on Writers series, focusing on Thomas Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith; if you’re yet to read a book in this series, please don’t miss this one. New publishing kids on the block, Ultimo Press (I should clarify – this company actually comprises some of the most accomplished professionals in the industry), have their first book hit the shelves this month: The Last Correspondent by Michael Smith. The excellent First Knowledges series is a collaboration between First Nations and non-First Nations writers exploring different themes; Songlines (October 2020) was the first book, and Design is out this month. Other nonfiction highlights include new writing from Richard Flanagan, Malcolm Gladwell, Janine Burke, Geoffrey Robertson, Patrick Radden Keefe, and Irvin and Marilyn Yalom, as well as selected writings of the late, great historian, Inga Clendinnen.

And finally, dear reader, this time last year, Mother’s Day celebrations across Victoria were likely conducted over Zoom, Houseparty, FaceTime, or perhaps the ancient technology of the telephone. Hopefully they’ll be in real life this year. If you’re looking for gift suggestions for the maternal figure in your life, you can browse suggestions here, from our family to yours.

 Read review
Gunk Baby

Gunk Baby

Jamie Marina Lau

$32.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...