Mark Rubbo

Mark_bigthumb

Mark Rubbo is managing director of Readings. He is a past president of the Australian Booksellers Association and was founding chair of the Melbourne Writers Festival. In 2006 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Reviews

Small Joys of Real Life by Allee Richards

When you read Allee Richards’ first novel, it’s tempting to make comparisons with Margaret Drabble’s groundbreaking The Millstone and Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip. In The Millstone, a brief relationshi…

Read more ›

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota

My son-in-law’s cousin was married a few months ago to a Punjabi man she’d never met. The marriage, by her own report, is going well. For some of us in the West, the idea of an arranged marriage seem…

Read more ›

Return to Uluru by Mark McKenna

By most measures Uluru is just a few hundred kilometres from the geographic centre of Australia. The location of the centre fascinated explorers such as Charles Sturt and Cecil Madigan. It’s held an …

Read more ›

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his novel The Sympathizer and the titular character of that book returns here in The Committed. This time the Sympathizer has surfaced in Paris in…

Read more ›

One Day I’ll Remember This: Diaries 1987–1995 by Helen Garner

This is the second volume of Helen Garner’s Diaries to be published and covers the years 1987–1995. The Helen in these entries is more mature, more established, and perhaps not as happy. Professional…

Read more ›

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan

Families are funny things; they can be the source of great strength, but also great cruelties, humiliations, and sadness. In a soulless Hobart hospital, Francie’s three adult children gather round he…

Read more ›

The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte

It’s 1941, in the depths of the Russian winter, and the beginning of the end of the German advance on Russia. A German medical unit stumbles through the gates of Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy’s country es…

Read more ›

A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville returns with a much-anticipated fourth novel considering Australia’s colonial past, and interactions between Australia’s First Nations peoples and colonists. Purporting to be the lost …

Read more ›

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

Micah Mortimer ‘… lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone.’ Micah’s an ordinary man. He dropped out of college to found a start-up with a friend; that failed and since then h…

Read more ›

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Have you ever been through periods when most books you pick up fail to ignite that magical spark? I’ve just emerged from one and Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line has been my saviour. Set in an imagina…

Read more ›

Apeirogon by Colum McCann

This is quite a surprising novel in its structure made up of a series of numbered passages. Every passage is connected in some way and at times not in ways that are immediately obvious. It is based o…

Read more ›

Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume I, 1978–1987 by Helen Garner

When Helen Garner’s debut novel Monkey Grip was published in 1977, a couple of larrikins made some beer money by publishing a pamphlet, ‘Who’s Who in Monkey Grip’ and there might be a temptation for …

Read more ›

Finding the Heart of the Nation by Thomas Mayor

In 2017, over two hundred and fifty Indigenous representatives from around the country gathered at Uluru and unanimously adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The last paragraph reads, ‘In 1967…

Read more ›

Other People’s Houses by Hilary McPhee

At one time, Hilary McPhee’s life was in upheaval and she was struggling with the illness and death of her parents, a bout of cancer and the end of a long marriage. It was a period of deep desolation…

Read more ›

Maybe the Horse Will Talk by Elliot Perlman

It’s a long time since Elliot Perlman’s last novel The Street Sweeper and it’s so good to see him back. Perlman’s work looks at social issues through the prism of a mighty fine story. He’s looked at …

Read more ›

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Say Nothing, Patrick Radden Keefe’s examination of the Troubles in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, won the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing. Keefe, a…

Read more ›

Harry Seidler’s Umbrella by Joe Rollo

The first thing that strikes you about this book is its sheer beauty. Joe Rollo got his friend and graphic designer Garry Emery to design the book and together they agonised over it. It’s a lovely ob…

Read more ›

Travellers by Helon Habila

A unnamed narrator accompanies his artist wife who’s been awarded a fellowship in Berlin. She is American, he is Nigerian. After a miscarriage they both feel unmoored; they both react differently: hi…

Read more ›

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

In Machines Like Me, Ian McEwan imagines a world in the past that is also the future. Britain has lost the Falklands War and driverless cars are the norm. Alan Turing, the great scientist, is also st…

Read more ›

Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith

I read an early draft of Invented Lives a year or so ago; it was almost wonderful then but now it really is wonderful. What I like most about Andrea Goldsmith’s work is that it manages to combine a d…

Read more ›

The Rip by Mark Brandi

If The Rip has any antecedents it’s probably novels like Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip and the late Andrew McGahan’s Praise; its gritty look at the underbelly of our society is raw and unflinching and a…

Read more ›

Love is Blind by William Boyd

I have to confess that William Boyd is one of my favourite authors; his Any Human Heart is probably his best but Love is Blind comes close. It’s an exotic and sad love story that kept me wanting more…

Read more ›

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

In the beginning of the twenty-first century all we can seem to see is a world of rapid change and turmoil, with the rise of a destructive right-wing nationalism, and technology outpacing our ability…

Read more ›

Prize Fighter by Future D. Fidel

Future D. Fidel is a refugee from the Congo. Prize Fighter is based on the acclaimed stage play written by Fidel and it too follows the life of Isa Alaki from the war-torn Congo to life in Australia.…

Read more ›

Origin Story by David Christian

David Christian coined the phrase ‘Big History’ in reference to a project that aims to tell the story of everything that’s happened from the beginning of the universe until now. It’s an idea that cau…

Read more ›

Reading the Landscape: A Celebration of Australian Writing

The University of Queensland Press was established in 1948 (coincidentally, the year I was born). In the mid-sixties, under the stewardship of American expat Frank Thompson, it started to publish Aus…

Read more ›

The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida

Set in the Veneto region of northern Italy, this novel about life in rural Italy between the 1920s and 50s is compulsively beautiful. It opens with a young woman, Maria, waiting for her father to bri…

Read more ›

Marcia Langton: Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton

I sense a growing desire for non-Indigenous Australians to know about our Indigenous culture. The recent successes of Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia (one of our bestsellers last month) and Alexis…

Read more ›

The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones

Mattanza is a Sicilian word to describe a seasonal ritual of hunting and killing tuna in the waters around Sicily; it also the term used to describe periodic mafia killings. Noah Glass, an art histor…

Read more ›

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

Jaxie’s dad ‘wasn’t always a c#%t. Like he was probably decent once and you were happy and so was your mum.’ But he is now, or was; he’s dead now and Jaxie Clackton, 16 and desperate, is on the run –…

Read more ›

News

Mark’s Say: August, 2021

by Mark Rubbo

The protracted lockdowns and the depopulation of city offices has had a terrible impact on bookshops in the City of Melbourne area. As one lockdown ends, these shops have struggled to rebuild their business, only to be hit with another lockdown. In our case, our shop in the State Library is 60% down on its pre-pandemic levels, our Carlton shop 12–20%, and it’s a similar story for our colleagues a…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say: July, 2021

by Mark Rubbo

If you’ve been to a literary event in Melbourne, chances are you’ve come across Antoni Jach. Softly spoken, always enquiring, he is often seen intensely listening to the speaker and then afterwards in animated conversation. An artist, novelist and playwright, he’s the author of three published novels, but he’s best known as a teacher and mentor to many writers since he started teaching writing at…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say: May, 2021

by Mark Rubbo

I was doing a bit of tidying up the other week and stumbled upon our Christmas catalogue for 1988. It was a modest production and interestingly a lot of the books we advertised then are still in print, and I was struck by how the prices then aren’t much different now. In 1988 Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines was $12.95. Using the RBA’s inflation calculator that would make it $30.21 in today’s dollar…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say: April, 2021

by Mark Rubbo

Lygon Street in Carlton and Acland Street in St Kilda were vibrant local shopping strips and wonderful areas to hang out. Sadly, they’ve lost some of their vitality. Both derived much of their energy from the wave of immigrants who came to Australia after the Second World War.

In Lygon Street, Italian immigrants opened small businesses and brought Italian food culture, and especially the espress…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say: March, 2021

by Mark Rubbo

For some Australian publishers, growth has come by expanding into other markets. Publisher Hardie Grant has been very successful setting up companies in the US and UK, and so has Scribe Publications. Black Inc. had a go too, but publisher Morry Schwartz is now trying a different tack by taking over the London-based Jewish Quarterly. Founded in 1953, it was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish tr…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say: February, 2021

by Mark Rubbo

After having been closed for the best part of a year, the State Library of Victoria (SLV), one of Australia’s most-loved and most-used cultural institutions, is open again. There’s no need to book but as a precaution, visitors will have to scan a QR code. Just prior to lockdown the library had completed a major renovation with many magnificent heritage spaces reopened to the public after decades …

Read more ›