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 appealing Australian debuts novels of 2020 – or, frankly, any year, and you can scratch the adjective ‘debut’ from that description too. Written by Sydney author Andrew Pippos, Lucky’s tells a story close to his heart and experience that is full of charm and imagination. The story finds its grounding in the postwar migrant experience in Sydney (and Australia at large), the period when a new cohort of people came to this country’s shores to find a better life for their families, and in turn shaped Australian culture in the second half of the twentieth century.

Lucky is the book’s pivotal character and founder of Lucky’s, a restaurant franchise inspired by the traditional Greek cafés that were at one time ubiquitous in major cities and regional centres. ‘Being lucky’ or making one’s own luck – and the roles played by fate, fortune, determination, and opportunity – are central features of the storylines, culminating in a brilliantly written sequence set around the classic game show of chance, Wheel of Fortune. No saga is complete without family secrets and scandals, and they are key to Lucky’s story, as well as that of journalist Emily. She arrives in Australia from the UK researching a story on the franchise for a New Yorker article that she hopes will reignite her career, just as her relationship with her husband falters and clues about her late father appear. It’s an intricate set of intersecting storylines and a disparate cast of characters, but they are drawn together seamlessly thanks to impeccable pace and structure.

Without a doubt, Lucky’s is a standout novel of this difficult year, and one that you’ll be eager to thrust into the hands of all your friends – to remind them of how much fun reading a great book really is, and how the answer to pretty much every problem is always: love.

Alison Huber is the head book buyer at Readings.

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Andrew Pippos

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