The 2014 winner of The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award has been revealed

Author: Christine PiperLast night I went to a party at Allen & Unwin’s offices in Crows Nest. There I met a great many wonderful people – writers, booksellers, journalists, publishers, cereal manufacturers… Yep, it was the Vogels.

Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton was on hand to announce the winner. She spoke well, her strong Kiwi accent assuring all in the room we can never get away with claiming her as one of our own (nor can Canada, for that matter).

The winner was announced – After Darkness by Christine Piper. In her acceptance speech Christine admitted to having known of her win for nine months.

It is part of the new structure of the Vogels. The winner and the shortlisters are told the decision of the judges well in advance of the public announcement to give the Allen and Unwin time to edit and publish the winning book. In past years the winner was announced and the public had to wait months and months for the book to become available. In our era of sound bites, this model cannot work, so they changed it.

The winner was announced last night, the book is available today.

Which means Christine Piper’s life changing news had to kept from friends and family for nine long months (she did share the news with her husband, she revealed). That is a BIG secret to keep.

And think of the shortlisters! Imagine the well wishers over that nine months, good hearted people, doing what they thought was the right thing, encouraging the shortlister, who, knowing the dark truth, can only return these enthusiasms with a non-committal expression for fear of giving the game away. Thank goodness writers aren’t sensitive folk. Oh, wait…

Enough of that, a big congratulations must go to Christine. We can’t wait to read AFTER DARKNESS.

When accepting the award, Christine said:

The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award is a rare and generous thing, a means for unknown writers, such as I, to have a shot at success.

In many ways, modern Australia is built on immigrant’s tales, and Vogel’s founder Niels, a Danish immigrant, created his own story when he established the award as a way of giving back to his adopted community. So I feel as if I’m adding to the diversity as a half Japanese Australian, born in Korea, now living in New York, who writes about Japanese immigrants.

When I started working on this novel, five years ago, I was still in my twenties, had never published a piece of fiction, yet had an ambitious dream to write a novel from the point of view of a Japanese internee. Now I’m older, wearier, and pushing the middle aged category of writer, yet thanks to this award I’m absolutely looking forward to what lies ahead.

Winner of The VogelAbout the book:

AFTER DARKNESS: It is early 1942 and Australia is in the midst of war.

While working at a Japanese hospital in the pearling port of Broome, Dr Ibaraki is arrested as an enemy alien and sent to Loveday internment camp in a remote corner of South Australia. There, he learns to live among a group of men divided by culture and allegiance.

As tensions at the isolated camp escalate, the doctor’s long-held beliefs are thrown into question and he is forced to confront his dark past: the promise he made in Japan and its devastating consequences.

Judges’ Comments:

‘A brave, profound meditation on identity, trauma, loss and courage… reminds us that there are two sides to every war and that history never ceases to be written… A novel that demands its place alongside Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Mark Dapin’s Spirit House.’ – Stephen Romei, The Australian

‘Piper draws us deeper and deeper into the compelling story of Tomakazu Ibaraki, a man whose strengths – discretion, honour and loyalty – also lie at the heart of his personal tragedy.’ – Danielle Wood, winner of The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award in 2002

‘After Darkness is about friendships that transcend cliched notions of mateship. It’s also about a man silenced by a promise … a haunting novel that lingers in a most unsettling way.’ – Fiona Stager, bookseller, Avid Reader

The 2014 winner of The Australian/Vogel's Literary Award

About Christine Piper:

Christine Piper’s short fiction has been published in Seizure, SWAMP and Things That Are Found in Trees and Other Stories. She was the 2013 Alice Hayes writing fellow at Ragdale in the United States. She has studied creative writing at Macquarie University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Technology, Sydney, where she wrote a version of this novel as part of her doctoral degree. She has also worked as a magazine editor and writer for more than a decade.

Born in South Korea in 1979 to an Australian father and a Japanese mother, she moved to Australia when she was one. She has previously taught English and studied Japanese in Japan, and currently lives in New York with her husband. After Darkness is her first novel.

Order After Darkness here

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize-winning author, dies at 87

Gabriel Garcia Marquez Portrait Session

From The Guardian:

The Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, who unleashed the worldwide boom in Spanish literature with his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, has died at the age of 87. He had been admitted tohospital in Mexico City on 3 April with pneumonia.

Matching commercial success with critical acclaim, García Márquez became a standard-bearer for Latin American letters, establishing a route for negotiations between guerillas and the Colombian government, building a friendship with Fidel Castro, and maintaining a feud with fellow literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa that lasted more than 30 years.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said via Twitter: “A thousand years of solitude and sadness at the death of the greatest Colombian of all time.

“Solidarity and condolences to his wife and family … Such giants never die.” Read More.

From The Sydney Morning Herald - read more

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

In 1982, he won the Nobel Prize in literature.

‘‘A rare phenomenon,’’ biographer Gerald Martin wrote in Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life (2008).

‘‘He is a serious but popular writer – like Dickens, Hugo or Hemingway – who sells millions of books and whose celebrity approaches that of sportsmen, musicians or film stars.’’

Among Garcia Marquez’s other major works of fiction are The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975), The General in His Labyrinth (1989) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985).

The last was made into a film released in 2007, directed by Mike Newell and starring Benjamin Bratt and Javier Bardem. Read more.

From The Australian - Read More

From The Australian:

Known to millions simply as “Gabo,” Garcia Marquez was widely seen as the Spanish language’s most popular writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century. His extraordinary literary celebrity spawned comparisons with Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

His flamboyant and melancholy works — among them “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” ”Love in the Time of Cholera” and “Autumn of the Patriarch” — outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages.

With writers including Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, Garcia Marquez was also an early practitioner of the literary nonfiction that would become known as New Journalism. He became an elder statesman of Latin American journalism, with magisterial works of narrative nonfiction that included the “Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor,” the tale of a seaman lost on a life raft for 10 days. He was also a scion of the region’s left. Read More.

From The Washington Post

The Huffington Post put together a wonderful collection of Garcia Marquez quotes for his birthday in March:

“Wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.” — From Love In The Time Of Cholera. Read More

From The Associated Press:

Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez was among Latin America’s most popular writers and widely considered the father of a literary style known as magic realism.

A partial list of his works:

FICTION:

“No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories,” 1961

“One Hundred Years of Solitude,” 1967

“The Autumn of the Patriarch,” 1975

“Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” 1981

“Love in the Time of Cholera,” 1985

“The General in his Labyrinth,” 1989

“Strange Pilgrims,” 1992

“Of Love and Other Demons,” 1994

“Memories of My Melancholy Whores,” 2004

NONFICTION:

“The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor,” 1970

“News of a Kidnapping,” 1996

MEMOIR:

“Living to Tell the Tale,” 2002

This year Penguin Australia has released the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez in new editions - See  Them All Here

For Garth Nix Fans the Wait Will Soon Be Over – Clariel is Coming in Oct

Clariel, the long-awaited and much anticipated prequel to Garth Nix’s bestselling Old Kingdom trilogy will be published in October 2014.

Click here for more details...

Pub Date: Oct 2014

New Prequel: Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen, and to the King. When her family moves to the city of Belisaere, Clariel finds herself at the centre of sorcery and intrigue: a plot is brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan; her parents want to marry her off to a killer; and a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city.

When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers.

Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage and save the King?

Set approximately six hundred years before the birth of Sabriel, Clariel will delight Old Kingdom fans as well as new readers hungry for epic fantasy adventure.

Pre-Order Clariel Now.

New Covers for Garth Nix’s bestselling Old Kingdom trilogy:

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Pub Date: Sep 2014

Book One: For many years Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won’t stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that treacherous world – and face the power of her own extraordinary destiny.

‘Sabriel is a winner, a fantasy that reads like realism. Here is a world with the same solidity and four-dimensional authority as our own, created with invention, clarity and intelligence.’ PHILIP PULLMAN

‘Passionately exciting, full of intriguing characters and stunning scenery, Sabriel is sheer enjoyment.’ THE TIMES

‘Weaving horror and fantasy into a rich, original story … a powerful, gripping quest.’ THE AGE

Pre-Order New Edition Now.

Can’t wait that long? Order current edition now.

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Pub Date: Sep 2014

Book Two: Dark forces are abroad once more in the Old Kingdom. Lirael, solitary daughter of the Clayr, and Sameth, the reluctant Abhorsen-in-Waiting, both seek the same man who may hold the key to an ancient evil stirring in the West. But the Dead cannot be laid to rest until the strange secret linking the fate of Lirael and Sameth is revealed.

‘A riveting sequel to his acclaimed Sabriel … Readers who like their fantasy intense in action, magisterial in scope, and apocalyptic in consequences will revel in every word.’ KIRKUS REVIEWS

‘What makes Lirael a delight is the magic that Nix brings to his story and to his characters. It is filled with twists and turns, playful inventiveness and dark magic, and is sure to satisfy his many readers.’ LOCUS

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Pub Date: Sep 2014

Book Three: Beneath the earth, a malignant force lies waiting, greedy for freedom from its ancient prison. As the Old Kingdom falls once more into a realm of darkness and terror, the people look desperately to the Abhorsen, the scourge of the Dead, to save them. Yet Abhorsen Sabriel is lost, missing in Ancelstierre.
Only Lirael has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. With her companions Sameth, Mogget and the Disreputable Dog, she travels across the Old Kingdom in a race against time, battling Shadow Hands and dark necromancers to reach Ancelstierre before it is too late. But what hope can one young woman have against a terrible evil with the power to destroy life itself?

‘The reader’s absorption into the intrigue, magic and dazzling richness of the worlds and characters created by Nix is irresistible pleasure …’ AUSTRALIAN REVIEW OF BOOKS

‘Terror, courage, bitterness, love, desperation, and sacrifice all swirl together in an apocalyptic climax that pits both Life and Death together against the destruction of everything … This one is breathtaking, bittersweet and utterly unforgettable.’ KIRKUS REVIEWS

Pre-Order New Edition Now.

Can’t wait that long? Order current edition now.

 

Pulitzer Prize For Fiction 2014 awarded to ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt

2014 Pulitzer Prize goes to 'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt

THE GOLDFINCH : Donna Tartt, author of the phenomenal bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend, returns with a breathtaking new novel.

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

THE GOLDFINCH is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.

Order your copy here

About the Author

Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages.

WinnerFrom the Pulitzer Prize website:

For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Citation: Awarded to The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown), a beautifully written coming-of-age novel with exquisitely drawn characters that follows a grieving boy’s entanglement with a small famous painting that has eluded destruction, a book that stimulates the mind and touches the heart.

Finalists: Also nominated as finalists in this category were “The Son,” by Philipp Meyer, a sweeping multi-generational novel that illuminates the violence and enterprise of the American West by tracing a Texas family’s passage from lethal frontier perils to immense oil-boom wealth; and “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul,” by Bob Shacochis, a novel spanning 50 years and three continents that explores the murky world of American foreign policy before 9/11, using provocative themes to raise difficult moral questions.

 

Visit Caroline's page on BooktopiaRead Caroline Baum’s Review

Few works of literary fiction will have been anticipated more than this hefty novel by an author already mythologised before she turned thirty thanks to her cult debut The Secret History.

It’s been more than ten years since her second novel, The Little Friend. Since then, she’s been off the radar. Rumours have swirled, deadlines have slipped.

Now Tartt is back and back in fine form, writing a dense, intelligent, complex and dark story about a small jewel of a painting that goes missing from the Metropolitan Museum following a bomb attack.

Its fate is told by a young unreliable narrator, Theo Decker- thirteen when we meet him – who has lost his mother in the museum explosion and attended the dying moments of an old man, prompting him, irrationally, to take the small painting and keep it hidden through the ensuing turmoil of his life: first with the marvellously preppy uptown Barbour family who take him in and then in the squalid chaos of Vegas, where he lives for a brief moment with his hopeless gambler father and his new girlfriend Xandra, (a piece of work who gives Tartt the opportunity to deploy her considerable comic skills ).

When Theo moves back to New York, he learns the antiques trade from the gentle Hobie, a true craftsman with no head for business. There are brilliant set pieces and a cast of characters who echo Dickens, and Henry James, pinpointing every nuance of social standing with forensic detail. Boris, a shady Russian who befriends Theo in Vegas, is the book’s most memorable scene stealer, navigating the underworld and a druggy twilight zone with Slavic charm.

The book is really a love letter to New York, uptown and downtown, and to the opaque and often dubious world of antiques and their collectors. It’s long and demanding and its pace is frustratingly languid at times but as a stylist, Tartt has such mastery that she keeps you in her thrall till the narrative picks up momentum.

Order your copy here

2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist Announced

FictionThe shortlist for the 2014 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction is here.

I am left gob-smacked by some of the exclusions – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, for example. Surely a Man Booker Prize winner can win Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, too. And isn’t it time to forgive Elizabeth Gilbert for Eat, Pray, Love?

But I am stupidly happy for Hannah Kent and hope she wins. Not just because the book is excellent, but because the book is excellent. If you look closely you’ll find there is no getting around that argument.

Australia’s Hannah Kent

The judging panel, which includes Mary Beard, Denise Mina, Caitlin Moran and Sophie Raworth, will announce the winner on June 4th.

The 2014 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men. Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids… Read More


americanahAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. Ifemelu – beautiful, self-assured-departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home… Read More


The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, The Lowland is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date… Read More


The Undertaking by Audrey Magee A stunning, riveting debut novel in the tradition of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader and Rachel Seiffert’s The Dark Room, The Undertaking shines an intense light on history and illuminates the lives of those caught up in one of its darkest chapters… Read More


A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride To read A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation. Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book… Read More


the-goldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate… Read More

Shortlist Judges

The 2014 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Runners Up

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood From one of the world’s most brilliant and exciting writers comes a new novel of astonishing power; the final novel in her dystopian trilogy. Told with wit, dizzying imagination, dark humour and a breathtaking command of language, Booker-prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable and chilling Maddaddam takes us into a carefully-crafted dystopian world and holds up a mirror to… Read More


The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne The Dogs of Littlefield is a wry exploration of the discontent concealed behind the manicured lawns and picket fences of darkest suburbia. Littlefield, Massachusetts, named one of the Ten Best Places to Live in America, full of psychologists and college professors, is proud of its fine schools, its girls’ soccer teams, its leafy streets and quaint village centre. Yet no sooner has… Read More


The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto Fatima Bhutto’s stunning debut begins and ends one rain swept Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border. Three brothers meet for breakfast. Soon after, the eldest, recently returned from America, hails a taxi to the local mosque. The second, a doctor, goes to check in at his hospital. His troubled wife does not join the family that morning. No one knows where Mina… Read More


The Bear by Claire Cameron Anna is five. Her little brother, Stick, is almost three. They are camping with their parents in Algonquin Park, in three thousand square miles of wilderness. It’s the perfect family trip. But then Anna awakes in the night to the sound of something moving in the shadows. Her father is terrified. Her mother is screaming. Then, silence… Read More


Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter A stunning debut novel – unexpected, tautly written, suspenseful – that touches on some of the most profound questions we have about war as it tells us a haunting story of a single mother, and her son, a member of the US Special Operations Forces. Eleven Days is, at its heart, the story of a mother and a son. It begins in May 2011: Sara’s son Jason has been missing for nine days… Read More


The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter India. 1837. William Avery, a fresh young officer in the East India Company, arrives in Calcutta expecting to be seduced by its ancient traditions. Nine months later he hasn’t learnt a word of Hindoostani, is in terrible debt, and longs to return home before the cholera epidemic finishes him off. A few months earlier, so rumour has it, the infamous and disgraced poet Xavier Mountstuart leaves Calcutta in order to… Read More


the-luminariesThe Luminaries by Eleanor Catton The astonishing and epic second novel from the prize-winning author of The Rehearsal – a sure contender for every major literary prize. It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes… Read More


Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies Pearl can be very, very good. More often she is very, very bad. But she’s just a child, a mystery to all who know her. A little girl who has her own secret reasons for escaping to the nearby woods. What might those reasons be? And how can she feel so at home in the dark, sinister, sensual woods, a wonder of secrets and mystery… Read More


The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert The Signature of All Things is a big novel, about a big century. It soars across the globe from London, to Peru, to Philadelphia, to Tahiti, to Amsterdam. Peopled with extraordinary characters – missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses and the quite mad – most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker, a woman of the Enlightened Age who stands defiantly on the cusp of the modern… Read More


the-flamethrowersThe Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner An extraordinarily ambitious big American novel about a young artist and the worlds she encounters in New York and Rome in the mid-1970s – by turns underground, elite, dangerous. In 1977 the city is alive with art, sensuality and danger. She falls in with a bohemian clique colonising downtown and the lines between reality and performance begin to bleed… Read More


almost-englishAlmost English by Charlotte Mendelson This is the extraordinary new novel from the Orange Prize shortlisted author of When We Were Bad. In a tiny flat in West London, sixteen-year-old Marina lives with her emotionally delicate mother, Laura, and three ancient Hungarian relatives. Imprisoned by her family’s crushing expectations and their fierce unEnglish pride, by their strange traditions and stranger food… Read More


Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined… Read More


The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a legal aid attorney who idolises Jim, has always… Read More


All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman’s present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice. Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It’s just her, her untamed… Read More

 

Creative Genius Dead at 41

Silverstone: “…shocked and dismayed…”

In news just handed to me, the creative genius behind hit films, CluelessBridget Jones’s DiaryBride and Prejudice has died.

Perhaps better known these days for her novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, she was once revered for her wit, intelligence, light touch and moral clarity.

When asked to comment on the news, a shocked and dismayed Alicia Silverstone is reported to have said, “I am shocked and dismayed, I thought she was long dead.”

Keira Knightly, who famously portrayed Lizzie Bennet in the film, Pride and Prejudice is said to have reacted thus on hearing the news, “She’s dead? I can believe it.”

But it is her younger fans who will find her sudden demise most shocking and it is to them our thoughts must turn.

Let us join them in their grief in the only way we can. #RIPJaneAusten.

Colin Firth had this to say after learning of her passing.

Click here to celebrate the late author’s incredible work

REVIEW: Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy (review by John Purcell)

Terms and Conditions was a publisher proof copy in a pile of publisher proof copies beside my bed.

I had been told that everyone at Bloomsbury Australia loved the book – which is only right since they were taking the trouble to publish it. They think it could be one of those surprise hits. They are going to back it with marketing. My first thought on hearing this pitch is, try Googling the title.

But I like the mob at Bloomsbury and take it home. I put it with the others.

I try not to think of this ever growing pile of proof copies as a burden. I try to think of it as a lucky dip.

I imagine myself a child again plunging my hand into a tub filled with wrapped presents. I’m hoping for a water pistol, but instead find a pair of socks. Good socks, school socks, a pair that would do the job well and would last, but socks all the same. I try again. I want a packet of throw downs, I get a compass. I know I shouldn’t grumble, the prizes I have won have their uses, they are practical and necessary. Good solid dependable things.

By the time I pulled out Terms and Conditions I was expecting a pair of Y-Fronts.

In the first chapter of Terms and Conditions the narrator, Frank, wakes in hospital, there has been an accident. He has amnesia. (God it is difficult to refrain from following this statement up with – he doesn’t remember a thing.) Thus we meet the two most important people in Frank’s life at the same time he does. His wife, Alice (Alice is my wife – allegedly) and his brother, Oscar. Frank works for Oscar at Shaw&Sons the law firm their grandfather founded. Note: In one of the finest ever uses of a footnote in the history of literature Frank reveals his true opinion of his brother. It made me snort.

Author Robert Glancy sets up his dark comedy over the next few chapters as Frank, a stranger to himself, tries to come to terms with the conditions of his life. It is easier than he thinks. He writes contracts for Oscar. He is married to Alice. He is very dull. But then his memory starts to return and this is where the novel takes off.

But is Terms and Conditions a very useful pair of Y-Fronts or is it something more exciting?

Comic timing rests upon structure. And this novel has been cleverly thought out. On every page there are enjoyable jabs aimed at the inanities of modern life. But it is the arrangement and delivery of the details of Frank’s life which increase the comic possibilities. Thankfully Glancy never overburdens his story with his direction. His characterisation saves him. Although the depiction of Frank’s wife Alice and her descent into corporate culture is so close to the truth I fear that those with no experience of corporate life may think the depiction fantastical.

Glancy delivers on the promise of the first half of the book, keeping a firm grip on his narrative right to the final lines. But is this the work of a talented artist or a competent craftsman? I think the answer lies in the relationship between Frank and his other brother, Malcolm, who has rejected a partnership in the family law firm and now lives a carefree life traveling the world. Malcolm emails Frank throughout the novel offering Frank (and us) an alternative perspective on life.

Terms and Conditions is a very funny book. At once a cautionary tale, a love story, a comedy of manners and a self-help book like no other. You will want to read it a second time. The fact that it is so funny doesn’t mean that it is lightweight. There is great meaning here, too. I put my hand into that lucky dip, my bedside pile of proofs, and was rewarded not with a pair of Y-Fronts but with a slingshot, the weapon of choice for those wanting to bring down something big.

Grab a copy of Terms & Conditions here

Terms & Conditions

by Robert Glancy

Frank has been in a car accident*. The doctor tells him he lost his spleen, but Frank believes he has lost more. He is missing memories – of those around him, of the history they share and of how he came to be in the crash. All he remembers is that he is a lawyer who specialises in small print**.

In the wake of the accident Frank begins to piece together his former life – and his former self. But the picture that emerges, of his marriage, his family and the career he has devoted years to, is not necessarily a pretty one. Could it be that the terms and conditions by which Frank has been living are not entirely in his favour***?

In the process of unravelling the knots into which his life has been tied, he learns that the devil really does live in the detail and that it’s never too late to rewrite your own destiny.

*apparently quite a serious one

**words that no one ever reads

*** and perhaps never have been

About the Author

Robert Glancy was born in Zambia and raised in Malawi. At fourteen he moved from Africa to Edinburgh then went on to study history at Cambridge. He currently lives in New Zealand with his wife and children.

Grab a copy of Terms & Conditions here

Congrats to our Facebook Winners: Blake Curran, Helen R. Smith, Lynelle Urquhart.

Email us at promos@booktopia.com.au to get your free copies sent out to you!

Caroline Baum Reviews… When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

Click for more details...Caroline Baum: I’m going to say what everyone else is going to say: When Mr Dog Bites does for Tourette’s what Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time did for Asperger’s.

Dylan Mint (great name) is a wonderfully realised creation, a boy with a wonderfully fruity turn of phrase and a great attitude.

Of course he gets the wrong end of the stick about a lot of adult things, and these misunderstandings provide playful, funny, bittersweet plot twists and turns but it’s his pre-teen personality with its hormonally surges and involuntary outbursts of obscenities that makes this such an entertaining read.

Publisher’s Blurb: Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. His life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that seems to escape whenever he gets stressed… But a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he’s going to die next March.

So he decides to grant himself three parting wishes, or ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’. Number one on the list is to have ‘real’ intercourse with his stunning and aloof classmate Michelle Malloy. Secondly, Dylan pledges to ‘fight heaven and earth, tooth and nail, dungeons and dragons’ so that his best friend Amir can find a new ‘best bud’. And finally he has to get his dad back from the war so that mum can stop crying so much.

It’s not a long list, but it’s ambitious, and he doesn’t have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing – and no-one – is quite as he had previously supposed.

Grab a copy of When Mr Dog Bites here

About the Author

Brian Conaghan is the author of the acclaimed The Boy Who Made It Rain (Sparkling Books, 2011). He is a forty-year-old Scot, living and working as a teacher in Dublin, and has an MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. When Mr Dog Bites is his second book.

When Mr Dog Bites comes in this cool YA edition as well…

Book comes in this cool YA edition as well

John Purcell: What I Am Reading Now

John PurcellThese days I always have more than one book on the go. It is part of the job. A perk, if you like. An abundance.

At the moment I am moving between three books. Three black, to varying degrees, comedies. And all three I want to finish because I am enjoying them so much. Which is tricky. I want to give each my full attention. But I also do not want to be seen to be preferring one over the other. I have to be careful.

This doesn’t happen often. I don’t finish many of the books I start. I can’t. Even the ones I love. No time. I get an idea of the quality of a book, its potential readership, its reason for existing and move on. Not one of the perks of the job.

But with these three I think I will make an exception. I’m halfway through all three so I feel confident I can recommend them all.

What are they? (If I find the time I will review them when I’m done)


Click here for more details...Terms & Conditions

by Robert Glancy

Frank has been in a car accident*. The doctor tells him he lost his spleen, but Frank believes he has lost more. He is missing memories – of those around him, of the history they share and of how he came to be in the crash. All he remembers is that he is a lawyer who specialises in small print**.

In the wake of the accident Frank begins to piece together his former life – and his former self. But the picture that emerges, of his marriage, his family and the career he has devoted years to, is not necessarily a pretty one. Could it be that the terms and conditions by which Frank has been living are not entirely in his favour***?

In the process of unravelling the knots into which his life has been tied, he learns that the devil really does live in the detail and that it’s never too late to rewrite your own destiny.

*apparently quite a serious one
**words that no one ever reads
*** and perhaps never have been

About the Author

Robert Glancy was born in Zambia and raised in Malawi. At fourteen he moved from Africa to Edinburgh then went on to study history at Cambridge. He currently lives in New Zealand with his wife and children.

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Click for more detailsThe Collected Works of A.J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin

AJ Fikry owns a failing bookshop. His wife has just died, in tragic circumstances. His rare and valuable first edition has been stolen. His life is a wreck.

Amelia is a book rep, with a big heart, and a lonely life.

Maya is the baby who ends up on AJ’s bookshop floor with a note.

What happens in the bookshop that changes the lives of these seemingly normal but extraordinary characters.

This is the story of how unexpected love can rescue you and bring you back to real life, in a world that you won’t want to leave, with characters that you will come to love.

‘Delightful! I read [it] in one sitting. It’s a big-hearted gift to anyone who has worked at a bookstore, or loitered in a bookstore, or dreamed of living above a bookstore. The story has humour, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love – love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory.’ Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

About the Author

Gabrielle Zevin was raised by parents who took her to the library like it was church. She suspects that is why she became a writer. Her career began at age fourteen when an angry letter to her local newspaper about a Guns ‘n’ Roses concert resulted in a job as a music critic.

Over eight novels for adults and young people, she has written about female soldiers in Iraq, mafia princesses in retro-future New York City, teenage girls in the afterlife, talking dogs, amnesiacs, and the difficulties of loving one person over many years. She is probably best known for her first novel, Elsewhere, which has been translated into 25 languages. She is also the screenwriter of the cult hit Conversations with Other Women.

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Click for more detailsLook Who’s Back

by Timur Vermes

Summer 2011.
Berlin.

Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognise him, though – as a brilliant, satirical impersonator who refuses to break character.

The unthinkable, the inevitable, happens, and the ranting Hitler takes off, goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own TV show, becomes someone who people listen to. All while he’s still trying to convince people that yes, it really is him, and yes, he really means it.

Look Who’s Back is a black and brilliant satire of modern media-bloated society, seen through the eyes of the Fuhrer himself. Adolf is by turns repellent, sympathetic and hilarious, but always fascinating.

Look Who’s Back is outrageously clever, outrageously funny – and outrageously plausible.

About the Author

The son of a German mother and a Hungarian father who fled the country in 1956, Timur Vermes was born in Nuremberg in 1967. He studied history and politics and went on to become a journalist. He has written for the Abendzeitung and the Cologne Express and worked for various magazines. He has ghostwritten several books since 2007. This is his first novel. Jamie Bulloch is the translator of novels by F. C. Delius, Daniel Glattauer, Katharina Hagena, Paulus Hochgatterer, Birgit Vanderbeke and Alissa Walser.

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ElBulli 2005-2011 – Every recipe from the last seven years of the world’s most creative restaurant

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elBulli 2005-2011 is the catalogue raisonné of elBulli, which was widely regarded as the world’s best restaurant until its closure in 2011. Having held three Michelin stars from 1997 to 2011, and regularly voted ‘Best Restaurant in the World’ by a panel of 500 industry professionals, elBulli was at the forefront of the restaurant scene from when Ferran Adrià became sole head chef in 1987.
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