Dear Reader, November 2019

Did I think this time last year that I’d be encouraging everyone to read a book based on the life of St Paul and a bunch of other folks from biblical times? Certainly not, but here I am and it is so. The mighty Damascus is the book in question by the one and only Christos Tsiolkas. It’s our Fiction Book of the Month that everyone who cares about literature will be talking about very soon, rounding out a fantastic year for fiction.

Also with us before the year is through is the book that won Readings Prize shortlistee Angela Meyer the Mslexia Novella Prize in the UK earlier in this year, Joan Smokes, as well as new work from Carmel Bird and Melissa Ashley, and playwright Leah Purcell’s debut novel, The Drover’s Wife, based on her award-winning play of the same name.

There are some huge international fiction releases to get your heads around, including: a beloved author’s further tales of her beloved character (Elizabeth Strout’s Olive, Again); Ben Lerner’s new novel, bound to be one of the books of the year (The Topeka School); a brilliant short novel from one of my favourite authors, Paul Lynch (Beyond the Sea); a sequel to please the many fans of André Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name (Find Me); a new modern fairytale from Erin Morgenstern (The Starless Sea), and; a debut from Kathy O’Shaughnessy which is a must-read for all who find themselves described by its title (In Love With George Eliot), as well as anyone else interested in the writing life.

Our Readings Monthly editor just loved Leslie Jamison’s new collection of essays, Make It Scream, Make It Burn, calling it ‘wonderfully unusual’, ‘compelling’, and ‘brilliant’, so it’s our Nonfiction Book of the Month. You might have missed The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff, and will no doubt regret this oversight when you see it listed as one of the most important releases of 2019: it’s now in paperback.

The metaphorical tsunami of music books continues (seriously, I can’t think of a year quite like this one) with books by or about Prince, Janis Joplin, Flea, David Bowie, Kim Salmon, the Melbourne music scene, Glastonbury … and the highly anticipated memoir of Archie Roach.

Blanche D’Alpuget’s biography of Bob Hawke has been updated and is republished for December. We also recommend the new books from Jung Chang, Lindy West, and Julian Barnes, the first instalment of Helen Garner’s diaries spanning the years 1978–1987, and Clare Bowditch’s revealing memoir, Your Own Kind of Girl. A lovely illustrated hardback of Elena Ferrante’s newspaper columns, Incidental Interventions, is a must for fans. I plan to make time to read the new essay collections from Lydia Davis, James Wood, and Hanif Kureishi.

And finally, dear reader, don’t forget to make sure your subscription details are up-to-date: we’ll be announcing details of our annual shopping day soon, exclusive to our newsletter and e-news subscribers.

You can pick up a free copy of the November edition of the Readings Monthly from any of our shops, or download a PDF here.

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Christos Tsiolkas

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