Meet the judges of the Readings New Australian Writing Award

A few weeks ago we were delighted to announce two new literary awards in support of Australian authors, including an award for New Australian Writing. Here, we share a little background on the Readings staff – to be joined by guest judge, Hannah Kent – who form the panel of this award.


Belle Place


What is your role at Readings, and how long have you worked here?

I’ve been the editor of Readings Monthly for a few months shy of a year.

What is an Australian book you have loved in the past and why?

To name just one novel, Steven Toltz’s A Fraction of the Whole, published in 2008. It’s irreverently funny but still achingly moving. Olga Master’s 1982 collection, The Home Girls, for her witty, shrewd depiction of character. And anything from Helen Garner.

How would you describe your ideal read?

This is a reductive answer but for me, in regards to a novel, more often than not I’ll choose something with astute characterisation and a contemporary setting. Also, I like novels with that sting of a bracing truth you might not uncover elsewhere. Elegant writing and wry humour are good, too.


Martin Shaw


What is your role at Readings, and how long have you worked here?

I head up the book buying department at Readings, specialising in adult trade fiction and non-fiction. I started working at Readings as a shopfloor casual – this month was my 20th anniversary with the company!

What is an Australian book you have loved in the past and why?

Sometimes you hear a lot of great things about a new release but only catch up with it well down the track. This was my experience of reading Romy Ash’s much-lauded Floundering. A story that you care about told in really striking, visceral prose – it’s a helluva debut, and I’m so glad that I didn’t miss it.

How would you describe your ideal read?

I think of it as rather akin to the experience of listening to a what-turns-out-to-be-great record for the first time. I’m quite possibly disoriented at first – What exactly is going on here? – only for the artistic composition to slowly begin to fall into place. Or, even put off – I don’t think I really like this… – only for the craft and the vision to begin to work its magic and for me to be slowly won over. Nothing beats that eureka moment when you realise the book that you’re reading is brilliant, the real deal.


Bronte Coates


What is your role at Readings, and how long have you worked here?

I started at Readings a few years ago as part of the marketing team. I work with Nina (our Online Manager) to manage website content including our blog, and with Belle (our Editor) to put together the Readings Monthly newsletter each month.

What is an Australian book you have loved in the past and why?

It’s not technically in the past but I’ve finally gotten around to reading Chrstina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children and I’m a little bit in love with it. I love reading about big families and their intricacies, so the Politts make for perfect fodder here.

How would you describe your ideal read?

My favourite kind of book is smart and funny with a strong emotional centre. I want to connect with a character, even when I don’t necessarily like them, and I’m more likely to give preference to a book for being interesting, rather than accomplished.


Mark Rubbo


What is your role at Readings, and how long have you worked here?

I’m the Managing Director of Readings and a co-owner. I started my business in 1972 and we bought Readings from Ross and Dorothy Reading in 1976 – so around 38 years.

What is an Australian book you have loved in the past and why?

Capricornia by Xavier Herbert, a big, sprawling novel set in Queensland. I loved its bravado and ambition and it was probably one of the first adult Australian books I read. I also have a very soft spot for Monkey Grip by Helen Garner as it was my first Australian bestseller as a bookseller.

How would you describe your ideal read?

I like my world and my preconceptions to be challenged – either subtly or dramatically. I do like a strong narrative and I’m not a great fan of tricks unless the writing is exceptional.

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Readings and Writings: Forty Years in Books

Readings and Writings: Forty Years in Books

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