Alison Huber

Alison Huber is Readings’ Head Book Buyer and works at the Carlton store. She has been selling books in Melbourne for twenty years. She is also a recovering academic.

Reviews

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Reviewed by Alison Huber

It’s safe to say that you’ll be reading (or have already read) a lot of breathless and emotional endorsements for this book from readers far and wide – and this extraordinary piece of nonfiction dese…

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Lanny by Max Porter

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Literature runs through Max Porter’s veins. He’s been editorial director at Granta and Portobello books, home to some of my favourite books of recent years, and penned the affecting and brilliant deb…

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The Little Girl on the Ice Floe by Adelaide Bon, translated by Ruth Diver

Reviewed by Alison Huber

As the scale and impact of child sexual abuse is finally becoming acknowledged and understood (though tenuously so, as recent comments by a defence QC in a famous court case chillingly reminded us), …

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The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper

Reviewed by Alison Huber

In February 2009, the state of Victoria experienced extreme weather events that provided the perfect conditions for the bushfire catastrophe that has come to be known as Black Saturday. One hundred a…

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Preservation by Jock Serong

Reviewed by Alison Huber

A little-known (though maybe soon-to-be-well-known) historical event forms the basis for Jock Serong’s latest novel, Preservation.

Using the 1797 shipwreck of the Sydney Cove off the coast of Preser…

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Man Out of Time by Stephanie Bishop

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Stephanie Bishop took themes of nostalgia, memory and migration and made them her own in her stunning 2015 Readings Prize-winning novel, The Other Side of the World. Bishop’s third novel, Man Out of

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Days of Awe by A.M. Homes

Reviewed by Alison Huber

A.M. Homes is one of my favourite authors, and I am hungry for any new writing from her. Homes is a brilliant analyst of life in the anxious times of late capitalism, where personal relationships and…

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Since the age of 18, narrator Keiko has worked part time in a 24-hour Tokyo convenience store. Often baffled by societal norms, Keiko appreciates the order that the shop brings to her life; the stric…

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Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee

Reviewed by Alison Huber

During her year as a judge’s associate in the District Court in Queensland, Bri Lee finds herself enduring case after case after case involving rape, sexual assault and child abuse. A fact that Lee k…

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Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Given the fact of the seemingly relentless media revelations of exploitation in all sorts of industries, I can’t think of a better time to read a smart book about uneven power dynamics. Lisa Halliday…

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In the Garden of the Fugitives by Ceridwen Dovey

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Ceridwen Dovey won the inaugural Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction in 2014 with her book of short stories, Only the Animals, an audacious and original work of imagination. Dovey’s new novel c…

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My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Sometimes, it’s a single character that makes a novel unforgettable; sometimes an intense plot puts you in a book’s grip; other times still, it’s the writer’s craft that draws you in and keeps you th…

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Miss Jane by Brad Watson

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Miss Jane Chisolm is born on a farm in Mississippi in the early part of the last century. Before too long it becomes apparent that she has a genital birth defect that she will need to live with, one …

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The Girls by Emma Cline

Reviewed by Alison Huber

There’s no other way for me to say it: I love this book. It’s a debut from a young writer called Emma Cline who I feel is a literary star of the future – actually, scrap that – of the present. This b…

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The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay

Reviewed by Alison Huber

When I was at the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute in January this year, it seemed like pretty much everyone was talking about The Mirror Thief. First, I heard the impassioned pitch …

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Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Virginia Reeves has written an extremely affecting debut novel set during the age of electrification in 1920s Alabama. It’s the kind of story that will stay with you long after you start reading the …

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The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

Reviewed by Alison Huber

You may not immediately recognise the name of the economist, sociologist and critic of modernity, Thorstein Veblen, but you will recognise some of the concepts that he introduced into the twentieth c…

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Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Speculative imaginings of our world in the wake of climate change are providing many authors with rich material for exploration. It’s fertile ground for some big questions that we should probably all…

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Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Fellow lovers of Big American Novels, clear your diaries: the new Jonathan Franzen is here. It has been five long years since Franzen’s last work of fiction, Freedom, and it has been worth the wait. …

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A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler

Reviewed by Alison Huber

This small book makes a huge impact. It has been a bestseller in its original German language publication (selling some 150,000 copies) and readers can now join in this thoroughly deserved enthusiasm…

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Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Sometimes it feels like books find their own way to you. I was drawn to Fourth of July Creek in a pile of proofs at the Carlton office for no particular reason, and it turned out to be an exact fit f…

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Alice Spring by Eleanor Hogan

Reviewed by Alison Huber

This handsome book is the latest addition to New South’s justly successful series about Australian cities, focusing this time on the capital of ‘Centralia’, Alice Springs. Countless readers have reli…

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Tigers in Red Weather by Lisa Klaussmann

Reviewed by Alison Huber

Read our Q&A with Liza Klaussmann here.

Let me first deal with two items of publicity that will inevitably precede this book – one, it is the debut novel by Herman Melville’s great-great-great-gran…

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News

Dear Reader, July 2019

by Alison Huber

I read in The Guardian recently that Han Kang is the latest writer to contribute work to artist Katie Paterson’s Future Library project, a collection of manuscripts that are being sealed away unread until 2114. Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell have already deposited work at this library, housed in Norway. The idea of this incredible project is both thrilling and distressing to me; these novels …

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Dear Reader, June 2019

by Alison Huber

When Tony Birch comes into the shop, I’m always keen to hear what he is reading. He reads extensively, widely, and thoughtfully, and that’s the way I believe his new novel, The White Girl, will be read too. This wonderfully crafted piece of writing is such an effective and affecting account of 1960s Australia because it has an historian’s eye for detail paired with the dramatic restraint of a bor…

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Dear Reader, May 2019

by Alison Huber

One of the perennial delights of working with new books is that there are always more new books (though it’s also a constant anxiety, since there are far too many to read, even in a thousand lifetimes), and we’re always furnished with advance copies well ahead of their release to the general public. As a consequence, I’m often reading something that won’t be available for several months when I wr…

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Dear Reader, April 2019

by Alison Huber

Our Nonfiction Book of the Month is Black Inc.’s anthology, Growing Up African in Australia. As is true for the collections exploring Asian and Aboriginal identities before it (and the Queer collection to come in August), I don’t think the impact of this anthology can be overestimated. The book industries here and internationally are trying to grapple with questions of diversity, representation, …

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Dear Reader, March 2019

by Alison Huber

One of the things I loved about Mark Brandi’s 2017 debut, Wimmera, was his precise writing of atmosphere, time, and place. In his follow up novel, The Rip, Brandi again creates an unforgettable document of our times, this time illuminating tough inner-city lives that are lived in plain sight. The Rip is the second installment in a stellar writing career, and our Fiction Book of the Month. It’s in…

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Dear Reader, November 2018

by Alison Huber

There are always far, far, far too many new books to talk about adequately in this column, but seriously, this month is out of control. But I want to use some words to say something about Jennifer Down, whose Pulse Points is the winner of this year’s Readings Prize. I think Down is actually a genius, and couldn’t agree more with judges about the quality of her writing: her ability to convey the e…

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