And the winner of the Indie Book of the Year is… Jane Harper’s The Dry: for the best Australian writing of 2016, as chosen by Australian independent booksellers. Our congratulations to Jane — we’ve barely been able to keep her book in stock since it came out!
Other prize winners this year:
* Fiction: The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
* Debut fiction: The Dry by Jane Harper
* Non-fiction: Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner
* Children’s: Circle by Jeannie Baker
* Young Adult: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
All titles in-store now, or on order in desperate haste if we’ve sold out! Let us know if you want any of the prize-winners put aside for you, and come enjoy some great Australian writing.
In his sequel to the brilliant Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan follows NYU academics Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young into their married life, complete with birth-father discoveries, celebrity fashion bloggers, Ferrari crashes and $20 million musical fountains. Another entertaining romp in the trials and tribulations of Asia’s squillionnaires.
China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan – TP – Allen & Unwin – $30
Sarah Winman, author of the much-loved When God Was a Rabbit, has written a lovely new novel set in a tiny village on the Cornish coast. 89-year-old Marvellous Ways lives in her ramshackle home on the creek near St Ophere and waits… for something, she doesn’t know what. Demobbed soldier Drake washes up, reeling from the war, and a connection between them. A magical realist novel set in Britain just after the Second World War, this is an enjoyable, absorbing story with a touch of romance.
A Year of Marvellous Ways – Sarah Winman – PB – Tinder Press – $30
Over the last few years, the Neapolitan Novels of Elena Ferrante have slowly earned an ardent fan base, including the writers Zadie Smith, James Wood and Jhumpa Lahiri. Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein, an editor at the New Yorker, Ferrante’s series is published in Australia by Text Publishing. Some of the hype comes from the author’s anonymity: there has been great speculation on Ferrante’s true identity (as covered
by the New York Times and The Guardian) and the current edition of The Paris Review has scored quite the coup, publishing the first-ever in-person interview with the writer behind the name.
But most of the attention is inspired by the gorgeousness of Ferrante’s writing — absorbing and seamless — and her choice of subject matter. At the core of the Neapolitan Novels is an exploration of the vibrant, competitive, demanding friendship between Elena and Lila, tracing the lives of the two women from their shared childhood in a poor neighbourhood of Naples in the 1950s. What is unusual about this series — My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay — is that it is all about these women, and their friendship, and their intertwining lives, as brilliant and erratic and dark as that may be.
I found the first two titles simply splendid, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the fourth and final installment, The Story of the Lost Child, as soon as it comes out later this year (rumoured to be in September). We have the three first titles in, so don’t miss out on these gorgeous quiet achievers.
My Brilliant Friend — Elena Ferrante — PB — Text — $23
The Story of a New Name — Elena Ferrante — PB — Text — $23
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay — Elena Ferrante — PB — Text — $23
The Stella Prize has announced its short list for this year’s prize, and there’s some very popular titles on it. We’re trying to keep them all in stock, so check them out next time you’re in store:
Heat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven ($22.95)
The Strays by Emily Bitto ($25.00)
Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke ($25.00)
The Golden Age by Joan London ($33.00)
The Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally ($30.00)
The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna ($30.00)
Some of these books are also on the Indie Book Awards 2015 Shortlist (all also in store).
The 2015 Stella Prize will be awarded on Tuesday 21 April – stay tuned!
You have to feel a bit sorry for an author who is being touted as having written ‘The African Kite Runner’. It puts just a little bit of pressure on. I’m not sure that I totally agree with that idea, although I do understand what the people who are saying it mean. The Fisherman is set in a small village in Nigeria in the 1990’s. Benjamin is nine years old, and it is his point of view telling the story. He is the fourth brother in a family of six children, and when their father starts living away for weeks at a time for work, the boys take advantage of their mother’s inattention as she deals with the two youngest children, one of whom is a baby. They start playing at being fisherman, a lowly past time. Their parents, in particular their father, are ambitious for the boys’ future, and being a fisherman and skipping school is not in the plan. One day when they are fishing, a homeless man, considered to be the local madmen, predicts that one of the brothers will kill another. The fallout from this prediction is tragic and reaches into the future for all of the family.
The Fisherman is a look into another world, one most of us know very little about. It is a sad tale of brotherly love and madness. It’s very good. $30
His Other House is one of those books which will provoke a lot of discussion about honour, moral courage and people who just want to have everything. It’s ideal for a book group because it will make some people feel outraged, and a lot will take a strong view one way or another.
But the key to the book is, who is wrong, who is right, or is there just no easy solution?
It involves Dr Quinn Douglas, married to Marianna for many years and they have been going through the process of trying to have a baby. After numerous rounds of IVF and several miscarriages, Quinn is emotionally exhausted with his own grief, and with watching Marianna suffer with each devastating loss.
Meanwhile Quinn is working away a couple of days a week and meets another woman. So far, so obvious you think. Or maybe not.
Rohan Wilson’s new novel, To Name Those Lost, is a dark and powerful historical novel, set in Launceston’s anti-railway riots of 1874. Brimming with the grim details that evoke the poverty and hardship of the lives of the poor in Van Diemen’s Land — I suspect no human fluid goes unmentioned — it is the story of Thomas Toosey’s search for his now motherless 12-year-old son. The Black War veteran is dogged by Irishman Fitheal Flynn and his companion, the hooded man — and I can’t really tell you any more of the plot without ruining it for you. The writing is sparse and gritty, the characters are solidly evoked but always surprising, and the narrative twists are astutely managed. A very fine book, recommended for fans of Australian and historical fiction.
Rohan Wilson — To Name Those Lost — Allen & Unwin — TP — $33
Gutenberg’s Apprentice tells of the innovation and intrigue surrounding the publication of the first-ever book made with moveable type, now known as the Gutenberg Bible. Seen through the eyes of Gutenberg’s historical apprentice, Peter Schoeffer, the novel traces the camaraderie and complicities of the workshop itself and the development of the tools of moveable type and the printing press. Peter’s relationship with his adopted father (Gutenberg’s financier Johann Fust) and his firecracker meister frame the historical upheavals of Mainz, Germany, in the early 1450s, where battles between Church and city-states guided and impeded the creation of the first machine-printed book.
Gutenberg’s Apprentice is the first novel of writer and letterpress printer, and one suspects that it couldn’t have been written by anyone else. Her printing knowledge and her historical research in three languages fed into her detailed reproduction of the religious backdrop, the printing intricacies and the four key characters of her novel (including the Book itself, of course). It is both a novel of historical and political intrigue, and an ode to the printers and word-crafters who birthed mass-produced written materials — and the world as we know it. Highly recommended for bibliophiles and lovers of historical fiction/thrillers.
For more information about the novel, see its beautiful and detailed website: http://www.gutenbergsapprentice.com/. To flip the pages of a Gutenberg Bible, as you can’t do in the flesh see: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/gutenbergbible/pages/.
Gutenberg’s Apprentice — Alix Christie — Headline — TP — $30
Great news! Acclaimed Australian author, Richard Flanagan, was this week named the winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Announced in London on Wednesday night, the prize recognises quality writing in English; this year was the first the prize was opened to American authors, but our own Mr Flanagan has claimed the prize.
Now available in store in the new paperback edition ($20). We only have seven copies, so get in quick! (Otherwise, see staff to put your name down for the next delivery.) Congratulations to Richard!