The best Australian fiction books of 2019
Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 Australian fiction books of the year, voted for by Readings’ staff, and displayed in no particular order.
(You can find all our best picks for books, music & DVDs of 2019 here.)
The White Girl by Tony Birch
The White Girl is local legend Tony Birch’s best novel to date. With his historian’s eye for detail, and knack for character and dialogue, Birch tells a story of the Stolen Generations through the unforgettable characters of Odette Brown and her granddaughter, Sissy. It is a work of love and respect for family and survival.
The Glad Shout by Alice Robinson
This novel of climate emergency fiction won Alice Robinson the 2019 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. A gripping story of a family’s survival during a flooding disaster, the experience of motherhood as it is articulated in crisis draws the focus here. Full of tension and with a heartstopping ending, Robinson’s writing skill excels.
This Taste for Silence by Amanda O’Callaghan
Amanda O’Callaghan’s Readings Prize-shortlisted debut collection of stories is testament to the power of the short form. Written with both precision and grand imagination, O’Callaghan explores a range of scenarios, many of them designed to unsettle the reader’s sense of comfort, with impressive psychological acuity and emotional scope.
The Yield by Tara June Winch
To read The Yield is to relish words, and to understand the centrality of Indigenous languages to culture. Using a multilayered narrative, Tara June Winch carefully excavates the story of a mission town and a family. This is a moving literary work about home, belonging, and the ongoing violence of colonisation, written in gorgeous prose by one of our rising stars.
Here Until August by Josephine Rowe
Josephine Rowe’s Here Until August is an outstanding collection of short stories, showcasing her enviable talent. Ranging North America to Australia, and from the wilderness to the city, these stories sparkle with insight, giving the reader countless moments of pleasure in the words on the page.
Bruny by Heather Rose
Heather Rose takes no prisoners in this hugely entertaining satirical novel. Set in a fictional insular world of Tasmanian politics, and centring on a controversial project to build a bridge to the island of Bruny, Rose critiques the parochialism of Australian politics. There are twists and turns you won’t see coming in this literary thriller.
Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas
Damascus is a knockout novel that has been five years in the making. Ruminating on the life of Saul of Tarsus, known as Paul in the New Testament, this exploration of faith, power, compassion, and hope is as contemporary as it is ancient. A stunning piece of work from one of Australia’s boldest literary voices.
Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith
Andrea Goldsmith’s eighth novel is the work of a writer at the top of her game. Set in the mid 1980s as the Cold War rages and the crisis of AIDS is unfolding, this is a family saga that explores themes of exile, identity, and inheritance. Goldsmith excels at rendering thedomestic sphere as her characters navigate their ways through history.
The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
Set over a weekend as three women in their seventies meet to clear out the beachside house of their late friend, The Weekend is an expertly crafted novel about the complexities of long-term female friendships. It is also Charlotte Wood’s love letter to the importance of these families that we choose, cut through with her brilliantly acerbic wit.
There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett
Favel Parrett’s third novel is a small book with huge emotional impact. Set between Prague and Melbourne, the story begins during World War II, and moves back and forth in time and space. Parrett shows how familial love transcends the horrors of exile and separation, and acknowledges the unique relationships that bond children and their grandparents.