Mark Rubbo’s Best Books of 2013
Our Managing Director Mark Rubbo shares his five favourite reads from the past year.
The Memory Trap by Andrea Goldsmith
This is a lovely, thoughtful novel. The protagonist, Nina Goldsmith, is a middle-aged advisor on memorial projects. After spending most of her adult life overseas, she returns to Australia after her marriage fails. There she finds her sister and her partner caught in a spiral of self destruction and deception, haunted by their past.
Critic Peter Pierce wrote in the Age, ‘It is an adult entertainment – passionate, thoughtful, disconcerting – and altogether to be welcomed.’
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
This is an extremely powerful and, at times, confronting novel about the brutality of war and the nature of heroism.
Set mainly in a POW camp on the Thai Burma Railway, the central character is a young doctor, Dorrigo Evans. By virtue of his rank, Evans is pushed into a role as leader of the POWs and comes to be regarded as a selfless hero, a description that sits uneasily with him. Richard Flanagan’s description of the conditions in the camp is brilliantly executed and I found the narrative totally compelling.
My Promised Land by Ari Shavit
Israel seemed a land of promise and hope. It was a powerful statement against the holocaust, and the socialist ideals of the early Zionists heralded a grand social experiment. But Israel was founded on contradictions that still haunt it today; the legacy of the massive, and often violent, displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians remains unresolved.
Journalist Ari Shavit has written a powerful, uplifting, sad and very personal book about this enigmatic society. My Promised Land will change the way you think of the Middle East and Israel – it’s a beautifully written book that will stay with you for a long time.
Coal Creek by Alex Miller
I have always been a great fan of Alex Miller’s work. His career has been marked by numerous awards, including two Miles Franklin Literary Awards, the Melbourne Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
Coal Creek is an extraordinary and tough story of love set against the harsh Australian landscape. The narrator is a stockman, Bobby Blue, who works for the local police constable. With no formal education, Bobby Blue’s story is told without pretension. An astoundingly beautiful novel.
Eyrie by Tim Winton
There’s something very unique about Tim Winton’s writing. He writes with a powerful voice that’s hard to be ambivalent about. Winton’s characters are often fighting their own inner demons and grappling with moral choices. In Eyrie, former TV presenter and environmental advocate, Tom Keely, has hit rock bottom after a political misjudgement sees his job, reputation and marriage in tatters.
As our reviewer wrote: ‘ Eyrie is a complex, exhilarating work that provides valuable insight into contemporary life in a compromised Australia. It’s also a ripping good read.’
Mark Rubbo is the Managing Director of Readings