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

Unquiet by Linn Ullmann

I must admit that I was initially drawn to this book thanks to a number of glowing endorsements from writers I admire – Rachel Cusk, Ali Smith, Deborah Levy among them – and a striking photograph on …

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There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura

A truer sentiment than the title of this work of Japanese fiction could hardly be imagined at this time, but this pre-pandemic piece of writing follows its 36-year-old narrator’s search for a meaning…

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Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos

Lucky’s is the kind of confident, big-thinking, character-driven, multi-storyline family saga that I love, and comes to us fully formed from a first-time author. It is one of the most impressive and …

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The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

It only takes a few lines of reading to discover that the character of the novel’s title is dead; she has committed suicide, leaving behind a young coterie of confused and devastated friends. They ea…

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What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez

Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend is one of my highlights of recent reading years, and it has become so much a part of my own reading autobiography that it’s hard to believe that is has only been in my memor…

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The Burning Island by Jock Serong

You may have read Jock Serong’s gripping 2018 novel, Preservation, based on real events surrounding a shipwreck’s survivors and their doomed walk along the south east coast of Australia to Sydney in …

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Kokomo by Victoria Hannan

The anguish of living with unfulfilled desire pulses through Victoria Hannan’s debut novel, Kokomo. Its characters, each in their own way, are trying to work out how to live when they cannot get what…

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The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun

Many forms of travel and tourism are currently off the agenda, so it’s an interesting time to contemplate the needs that are not being sated due to these pandemic-imposed restrictions. What precisely…

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A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Already garnering the kind of praise from high-profile authors and international reviewers that a debut author might only dare dream of, A Burning has the feel of one of the ‘must read’ titles of 202…

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The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay

The Animals in That Country is a standout debut novel of 2020. It is the second work of fiction from Laura Jean McKay, following her acclaimed short-story collection, Holiday in Cambodia (2013). Orig…

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Indelicacy by Amina Cain

Vitória is a cleaning woman in a museum, but longs to be a writer. She meets and swiftly marries a wealthy man, who wants her to do nothing but relax. With this new-found leisure, Vitória works dilig…

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Weather by Jenny Offill

If I were more paranoid than I am willing to admit, I would be ruminating very seriously on when and how Jenny Offill (or her agents) entered my brain, extracted many of my thoughts, concerns, and ne…

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A Couple of Things Before the End by Sean O'Beirne

All hail Sean O’Beirne, and his brilliant debut collection of short stories, A Couple of Things Before the End, a timely excoriation of the nostalgic myths of Australianness. With a master satirist’s…

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Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas

Damascus is one of the standout novels of the year, delivered to us by the incomparable and singular writer who is Christos Tsiolkas, an author who reinvents himself with every single one of his book…

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Guest House for Young Widows by Azadeh Moaveni

What might make a woman – perhaps an educated woman from a stable family situation – travel to Syria to join the Islamic State? This is the foundational question of the brilliantly provocative and ge…

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Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing by David Leser

Journalist David Leser has written a timely and passionate contribution to the public discourse that is emerging in the wake of the #MeToo movement. It’s the contribution of, in his own words, ‘a str…

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Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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News

Dear Reader, November 2020

by Alison Huber

Each year, our staff members vote on their favourite books of the year, and each year at this time, I panic because I have, yet again, failed to keep a reading diary to remind me of all the books I’ve ploughed through in the year – and given this year’s events, one can be forgiven from forgetting what was read when, how, or where (or, for that matter, for abandoning books halfway through for no g…

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Dear Reader, October 2020

by Alison Huber

This month’s avalanche of brilliant new releases provokes mixed feelings for the bookseller in lockdown. There are so many fabulous books entering the world, but we do so miss introducing them to you through conversations in real life, in the lively bustle of our shops. We can’t wait to welcome you back to our shops – and when we can, you’ll see the huge piles of The Living Sea of Waking Dreams b…

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Dear Reader, September 2020

by Alison Huber

If, after six weeks at home during Stage 4 restrictions, you’ve been staring at your shelves thinking, ‘I’ve read all these’, then have I got some great news for you. September is usually the month that gets me prepping for the Christmas season, with lots of the biggest books of the year due in store. This September is bigger than ever, full of books readers are waiting for, some of them delayed …

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Dear Reader, August 2020

by Alison Huber

The award given to an Unpublished Manuscript at the annual Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards has developed an excellent track record over the years for uncovering talent (alumni include Jane Harper, Christian White, and Melanie Cheng), and so it was with some expectation that I read Kokomo by Victoria Hannan, 2019’s award recipient. I was not disappointed: this impressive debut is a finely craf…

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Dear Reader, July 2020

by Alison Huber

If you feel like your head will explode if you hear the phrases ‘unprecedented times’ or ‘new normal’ again, then you are in the right place. Welcome to an experience that will take you back to a more comfortable era, delivering a familiar kind of ‘old normal’ that should bring you some feeling of nostalgic relief: perusing an excellent edition of the Readings Monthly. This month’s issue is overf…

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Dear Reader, March 2020

by Alison Huber

Vivian Pham is one of those incredibly talented and bright young people whose list of achievements at an early age will make you seriously wonder what you have been doing with your life. Case in point: Pham’s debut novel was signed by Penguin Random House two years ago when she was still at high school. Reading the final product, The Coconut Children, a story set in the late 1990s in the Vietnames…

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