Dear Reader, September 2020
If, after six weeks at home during Stage 4 restrictions, you’ve been staring at your shelves thinking, ‘I’ve read all these’, then have I got some great news for you. September is usually the month that gets me prepping for the Christmas season, with lots of the biggest books of the year due in store. This September is bigger than ever, full of books readers are waiting for, some of them delayed from earlier in the year. Our Fiction Book of the Month is a case in point: Elena Ferrante’s admirers have been desperate to read her new book, The Lying Life of Adults, and it’s finally here. There are many, many Ferrante superfans here at Readings, so expectations were nervously high. Our reviewer calls it ‘a vivid, volcanic masterpiece’: I think that means everyone can relax because it’s pretty good!
Other eagerly awaited international releases out this month include books from Sigrid Nunez, Yaa Gyasi, Andrew O’Hagan, Emma Cline, Donal Ryan, Ian McGuire, Sarah Moss, Tiffany McDaniel, Michel Faber, Ayad Akhtar, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Ken Follett, and Sue Miller. Blue in Chicago is a collection of short stories by the late Bette Howland which was originally published in 1978; Howland was much celebrated during the 1980s in particular, but her name has somehow fallen out of the canon. This republication should rectify that.
There is so much great new Australian fiction I don’t quite know where to start, but perhaps you should begin with the books our reviewers recommend from Kate Mildenhall, Ewa Ramsey, Steven Conte, Sam Coley, Laura Elvery, Emma Ashmere, Jock Serong, and Barry Lee Thompson. Kill Your Darlings have published another excellent collection, New Australian Fiction 2020. We recently announced the books shortlisted for this year’s Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. It’s an outstanding group: read the report on the books here, written by the chair of the judging panel, Joe Rubbo.
Our nonfiction Book of the Month is investigative journalist Brian Deer’s exposé of medical misconduct, The Doctor Who Fooled the World. The ongoing impacts of Andrew Wakefield’s actions are even more concerning right now. Readers of essay collections are spoilt for choice this month, with new work from Helen Macdonald, Eula Biss, and Kylie Maslen, as well as debut memoirs from Katerina Bryant and Gemma Carey. The many fans of James Rebanks’s A Shepherd’s Life and Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path will be excited to hear they each have a new book – English Pastoral and The Wild Silence respectively. Other notable nonfiction releases include books from Marlee Silva, Alan Davies, Natasha Trethewey, Jacqueline Kent, Anthony Sharwood, Yanis Varoufakis, Nick Bryant, Marian Wilkinson, Ben Macintyre, and Richard Broinowski on the life of E.W. Cole.
The final few months of this year will be joyous for cookbook aficionados because there are so, so many great books on the horizon, but this month we have two of the best: the vegetarian’s delight, Ottolenghi FLAVOUR (which follows Plenty and Plenty More), and from Melbourne’s own emerging foodie icon Julia Busuttil Nishimura, A Year of Simple Family Food (her first book, Ostro, is already a Readings classic).
And finally, dear reader, it is again my pleasure to congratulate our beloved staff member and ‘Dead Write’ columnist, the incomparable Fiona Hardy, on the publication of her second novel for middle-grade readers (and anyone who loves great stories), How to Write the Soundtrack to Your Life. Fiona is now officially a ‘book-a- year author’, so get reading her work right now before there are just too many books to catch up on!