Our ten most anticipated Australian books
Our staff pick the Australian book they are most excited about reading in the second half of the year.
If you pre-order any of these ten Australian books, you’ll receive a copy signed by the author!
Martin Shaw recommends Demons by Wayne Macauley
(due in late July)
Back at the beginning of the year I wrote: ‘In recent years, Wayne Macauley, author of The Cook, has well and truly arrived as one of our most exciting prose practitioners. No word on the content of his forthcoming novel, but I don’t think we care – we’re reading it!’
Well, I can now confirm that the readerly compulsion many of us feel towards new fiction from Macauley is repaid generously in Demons. A group of friends gather in a holiday house on the Great Ocean Road in the depths of winter: think an open fire, food & wine, and good old-fashioned yarn telling (phones being barred for good measure). The stories they tell though become uncomfortably close-to-home in what becomes an increasingly charged atmosphere. A compelling, hilarious, biting satire of our rampant culture of narcissism – Demons is Macauley at his caustic best. Indeed to my mind, ‘the greatest country on earth’ may just have found in Macauley its wickedest chronicler.
Click here to pre-order your signed copy ($29.99). Please note, due to author’s schedule, the signed copies will be sent out on Tues 29 July, six days after release.
Suzanne Steinbruckner recommends Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa
(due in late July)
After hearing an interview on Awaye! on Radio National where Musa spoke about his Malaysian-Australian heritage, poetry and hip-hop, working with kids in Indigenous communities and the story of how Here Come the Dogs came about, I’ll definitely be grabbing a copy of this book on release. This is Musa’s first novel, following on from his poetry collection (Parang) and it’s set in a world of hip-hop and graffiti. The story centres on two brothers and a mate trying to survive a hot Australian summer while waiting for their chance to make it big. Omar said he knew he’d been very lucky to have the opportunity to publish the novel and hearing him speak left me feeling incredibly happy and energised about the future of Australian Arts and Culture.
Bronte Coates recommends This House of Grief by Helen Garner
(due in late August)
A new Helen Garner book is always an event worth celebrating and This House of Grief looks like it will be particularly fascinating, but also extremely difficult. Garner follows the court case of Robert Farquharson, a separated husband who was driving his three sons home to their mother when his car plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Reading that description alone makes my heart feel tight. I’ve found Garner’s previous court-case books (Joe Cinque’s Consolation, The First Stone) challenging reads and suspect this one will be too, perhaps even more so.
Emily Gale recommends Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett
(due in late August)
I read Sonya Hartnett’s Butterfly in 2009 and remember finding her prose so exquisite that it gave me goosebumps. Hartnett also writes novels for children but her new novel Golden Boys, and indeed Butterfly, are about children or teenagers but not for them. Her work is intense; she writes scenes that are unnervingly quiet on top and a riot of emotion underneath. The observations can seem brutal, but truthful. When I read her work, everything around me goes quiet.
Ann Le Lievre recommends When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett
(due in late August)
A newly found friend recently sealed our friendship when she handed me her copy of Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows with the words: ‘If you never do anything else, you must read this’. Just as well it was the weekend! I sat down and barely moved, actually in parts I could barely breathe, as I read this remarkable Australian debut novel. Set in the south-east coast of Tasmania (Bruny Island way) Past the Shallows tastes and smells and sounds of all things to do with one of my favourite corners of the world. Against this wild landscape the author’s style is simple and luminous. The small moments of heart that surround the three brothers who are central to the story caused my own heart to ache, and dissolve.
I will therefore put aside an uninterrupted weekend in anticipation of Parrett’s new novel, When the Night Comes. Once again we’ll travel to Tasmania, Hobart and then beyond to Antarctica through the eyes of a young girl. The central theme is her friendship with a Danish sailor who crews an Antarctic supply ship, the Nella Dan. I believe we couldn’t be in better hands for such a journey.
Amy Vuleta recommends Dress Memory by Lorelei Vashti
(due in September)
I’m hanging out for Dress Memory by Lorelei Vashti - it’s a memoir of her twenties told through the dresses she wore. I actually shared a house in Brisbane with Lorelei and her dress collection for a while, and have followed her blog (on which this book is based) since she first embarked on this truly unique project years ago. Each week I was captivated by the beautiful words and colour-saturated photographs, by how perfectly they express all of the hopefulness, sadness, panic and elation of a woman in her twenties, at once carefree and serious as she experiences life. In number 17, ‘Edwardian Eighties’, Lorelei writes: “When I woke up on the first afternoon of the new year, I saw this dress lying crushed on the floor. It smelled of cigarette smoke and perfume and looked like a huge, crumpled petal: used up, fading, wasted. But it’s the sort of dress that will magically uncrinkle itself when you pick it up off the floor, so I got out of bed, haughtily hung it up and reminded myself it wasn’t too late to turn my life around.”
I can’t wait to hold Dress Memory the book in my hands, to leaf through its pages, and to tumble and sink into its lush world of velvet-and-lace images and words.
Belle Place recommends Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen
The contemporary artist Adam Cullen is best known for his Archibald Prize-winning portrait of David Wenham. In Acute Misfortune, Erik Jensen – founding editor of The Saturday Paper – chronicles his intense four-year relationship with the deeply troubled artist, beginning in 2008, when Cullen invited Jensen to stay in his spare room and write his autobiography. Jensen’s tightly focussed portrait of Cullen promises to be simultaneously gripping and repellent – an enthralling account of an artist’s self-destruction.
Judi Mitchell recommends The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
(due in late September)
I picked up Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project during the busy Christmas period last year. Reading it inspired an exciting return to Australian Literature after a considerable absence, and I discovered the future of Oz Fiction is in very good hands; Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites being one such example. Now, for me and all Don Tillman fans out there, the wait is almost over… that is if you’re happy to wait for another three months. Aaaaggghhhh! Due just in time for my birthday (hint, hint) – The Rosie Effect continues the delightful, witty and uplifting relationship of Don and Rosie in NYC. And there is a new addition on the way!
Emily Harms recommends My Story by Julia Gillard
(due in early October)
I am really looking forward to reading Gillard’s observations of her three years and three days as Prime Minister of Australia. Considering we have read so much about this particular time through recent accounts from others – The Stalking of Julia Gillard, Bewitched and Bedevilled, Gravity – it will be refreshing to hear Julia describe what life was really like as Australia’s first female prime minister in her own words, and reveal what was hidden behind the resilience and dignified courage she showed at all times, even in the thick of the vicious hate campaigns directed against her. My Story will no doubt provide us with many new insights into what it takes to be a woman leader in contemporary politics.
Nina Kenwood recommends Laurinda by Alice Pung
(due in late October)
I used to work at Black Inc., the publisher of Alice Pung’s memoirs Unpolished Gem and Her Father’s Daughter. Promoting Alice’s work was always a delight – not just because she is lovely but because her writing has that something special about it. Alice’s first book, Unpolished Gem, was a break out success because so many people, of all ages, connected with her story. Ever since I read Unpolished Gem, I’ve hoped Alice would write a novel with a teenage protagonist. Now I’ve finally got my wish, and that novel is coming! Laurinda is Alice’s debut young-adult novel, set in an exclusive girls' school. Knowing Alice’s style, this book will appeal equally to adults and teens and I can’t wait to read it.