Round-Up of May New Releases

It’s shaping up to be a blockbuster May at Readings, with several of the year’s most anticipated books hitting our shelves. First up there’s Anna Krien, who might just be installing herself as a short-priced favourite for next year’s Stella Prize (amongst many other awards) with Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport, her riveting diagnosis of that institution of modern Australian society: the AFL. She examines not only its allure to a broad section of society and its high media profile, but also its murky depths, particularly when it comes to the aberrant moral behaviour of some of its players.

Does the league sometimes seem to perpetuate as much as reject sexual stereotypes of women? And what does the average punter make of it all? How are their attitudes, and society’s generally, shaped by this dominant cultural force?

Our reviewer says nothing less than that Night Games ‘is one of the most incredible works of investigative non-fiction that I have ever read’.

Also much-heralded is Hannah Kent’s debut novel, Burial Rites, a masterful evocation of a time and place. Set in late nineteenth-century Iceland and based on actual events, it is the incredible story of the last woman to be executed on the island. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for a writer of historical fiction, particularly when the setting is a country at great geographical and cultural remove from one’s own, is to be convincing.

Yet Kent has a near-miraculous touch here: her details ring true, the natural environment is a character in itself and the tale of a savage double murder is played out by a great cast of characters. Booksellers around the country have fallen in love with the book in advance of publication, and I can’t help but feel that as our Aussie winter starts to grip, this will be the novel for our own long, cold nights.

Perhaps to continue the northern theme – Karl Ove Knausgaard has released the second volume in his epic autobiographical novel-series, A Man in Love, and will doubtless be a hot ticket when he visits our shores for the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Everyone’s favourite thriller writer John le Carré returns with A Delicate Truth and David Sedaris is also back with Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

There are also new novels from Lionel Shriver (Big Brother) and Andrea Goldsmith (The Memory Trap), and a posthumous novel from the wonderful Janet Frame (In the Memorial Room). Finally, Robert Hillman’s Gurrumul: His Life and Music – a pictorial tribute with accompanying CD – rounds out this big publishing month.

Martin Shaw is Readings’ Books Division Manager.