BREAKING NEWS: 2015 Miles Franklin Longlist announced

The 2015 Miles Franklin longlist is one of the most exciting in recent memory, something of a changing of the guard on the Australian literary scene. A cavalcade of not just Australia’s finest writers, but also the nation’s freshest thinkers, find themselves competing for the $60,000 prize.

Debut authors Omar Musa, Suzanne McCourt and Vogel Award winner Christine Piper are joined by literary heavyweights Joan London and Sonya Hartnett, while Favel Parrett makes her second Miles Franklin longlist in as many books with the beautiful When The Night Comes.

Don’t miss the chance to grab a copy of these fantastic books and judge them for yourself.


9781922182968In Certain Circles

by Elizabeth Harrower

Zoe Howard is seventeen when her brother, Russell, introduces her to Stephen Quayle. Aloof and harsh, Stephen is unlike anyone she has ever met, ‘a weird, irascible character out of some dense Russian novel’. His sister, Anna, is shy and thoughtful, ‘a little orphan’.

Zoe and Russell, Stephen and Anna: they may come from different social worlds but all four will spend their lives moving in and out of each other’s shadow.

Set amid the lush gardens and grand stone houses that line the north side of Sydney Harbour, In Certain Circles is an intense psychological drama about family and love, tyranny and freedom.

328874-121027-rev-harrowerAbout the Author

Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. She lived in Newcastle until her family moved back to Sydney when she was eleven.In 1951 Harrower travelled to London and began to write. Her first novel, Down In The City, was published there in 1957 and was followed by The Long Prospect a year later. In 1959 she returned to Sydney, where she worked in radio and then in publishing. Her third novel, The Catherine Wheel, appeared in 1960.Harrower published The Watch Tower in 1966. Four years later she finished a new novel, In Certain Circles, but withdrew it from publication at the last moment, in 1971. It remained unpublished until 2014. In Certain Circles is Harrower’s final completed novel, though in the 1970s and 1980s she continued to write short fiction. She is one of the most important postwar Australian writers – admired by many of her contemporaries, including Patrick White and Christina Stead. Her novels are now being acclaimed by a new generation of readers and writers. Elizabeth Harrower lives in Sydney.

Grab a copy of In Certain Circles here


9781926428611Golden Boys

by Sonya Hartnett

Sonya Hartnett’s third novel for adults is perfectly formed and utterly compelling, an unflinching and disquieting work from one of Australia’s finest writers.

Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to. But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.

0000002793About the Author

Sonya Hartnett’s work has won numerous Australian and international literary prizes and has been published around the world. Uniquely, she is acclaimed for her stories for adults, young adults and children. Her accolades include the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Of A Boy), The Age Book of the Year (Of A Boy), the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (Thursday’s Child), the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for both Older and Younger Readers (Forest, The Silver Donkey, The Ghost’s Child, The Midnight Zoo and The Children of the King), the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (Surrender), shortlistings for the Miles Franklin Award (for both Of a Boy and Butterfly) and the CILP Carnegie Medal (The Midnight Zoo). Hartnett is also the first Australian recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (2008).

Grab a copy of Golden Boys here


9781743319598The Eye of the Sheep

by Sofie Laguna

Ned was beside me, his messages running easily through him, with space between each one, coming through him like water. He was the go-between, going between the animal kingdom and this one. I watched the waves as they rolled and crashed towards us, one after another, never stopping, always changing. I knew what was making them come, I had been there and I would always know.

Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She more…

1_LagunaSophia1About the Author

Sofie Laguna originally studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she trained as an actor. Sofie is now an author, actor and playwright. Her books for young people have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Sofie’s first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, was also published throughout Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom. Sofie has written the screenplay for the film of One Foot Wrong, scheduled for pre-production in 2014.

Grab a copy of The Eye of the Sheep here


9781741666441The Golden Age

by Joan London

This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life. From one of Australia’s most loved novelists.

He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home.

It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a more…

London, JoanAbout the Author

Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, was published in 2001, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards. Joan London’s books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age (2014) is her third novel.

Grab a copy of The Golden Age here


9781922147783The Lost Child

by Suzanne McCourt

From the headland, we look across to the lighthouse on Seal Island where Mr Hammett has to take the gas bottle to keep the light flashing at night. Aunt Cele says there is no land between us and the bottom of the world where everything is white ice and there are penguins as big as men, but I know this already because Dunc has told me.

Sylvie is five. It’s the 1950s and she lives in Burley Point, a fishing village south of the Coorong on Australia’s wild southern coast. She worships her older brother Dunc. She tries to make sense of her brooding mother, and her moody father who abandons the family to visit The Trollop, Layle Lewis, who lives across the lagoon.

It’s hard to keep secrets in a small town, but when Dunc goes missing, Sylvie is terrified that she is more…

SuzanneMcCourtAbout the Author

Suzanne McCourt was born in Millicent, on the South Australian coast, and now lives in Melbourne. After a career in teaching, marketing, public relations and private employment, she came late to creative writing. Suzanne has won prizes for her short stories, and several of her poems trundle around Melbourne on trains as part of the Moving Galleries project. She is the author of two books: Old Dogs: Lessons in Loving and Ageing and The Lost Child.

Grab a copy of The Lost Child here


9780670077090Here Come the Dogs

by Omar Musa

In small town suburbia, three young men are ready to make their mark.

Solomon is all charisma, authority and charm, down for the moment but surely not out. His half-brother, Jimmy, bounces along in his wake, underestimated, waiting for his chance to announce himself. Aleks, their childhood friend, loves his mates, his family and his homeland, and would do anything for them. The question is, does he know where to draw the line?

Solomon, Jimmy and Aleks: way out on the more…

0000008248About the Author

Omar Musa is a Malaysian-Australian rapper and poet from Queanbeyan, Australia. He is the former winner of the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. He has released three hip hop albums, two poetry books (including Parang), appeared on ABC’s Q&A and received a standing ovation at TEDx Sydney at the Sydney Opera House. He is currently working on a play, ‘Bonegatherer’, and his first book, Here Come the Dogs, will be published in August 2014.

Grab a copy of Here Come the Dogs here


isbn9780733626586When the Night Comes

by Favel Parrett

The hauntingly beautiful story of a young girl transformed by the power of kindness from award-winning author Favel Parrett.

Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything.

Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and life onboard. Like the more…

Favel Parrett-detailAbout the Author

In 2011, Favel Parrett’s career was launched with the critically-acclaimed and award-winning debut Past the Shallows. A heart-breaking novel, it was sold internationally, shortlisted in the prestigious Miles Franklin Award and won the Dobbie Literary Award. Favel herself won the ABIA Newcomer of the Year Award in 2012.

Grab a copy of When the Night Comes here


9781760113117After Darkness

by Christine Piper

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 who are 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.

0_piper_christine_smlAbout the Author

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. Christine 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. Both in South Korea in 1979 to an Australian father and a Japanese mother, Christine 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. Christine is also the 2014 recipient of the ABR Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay. The winner of The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Prize 2014. After Darkness is Christine Piper’s first novel. She was also shortlisted for the Readings New Australian Writing Award 2014.

Grab a copy of After Darkness here


9781922147325Tree Palace

by Craig Sherborne

They tried Mansfield but it was freezing and snowed and people like them don’t fit in because they don’t look prosperous. One time near Yellingbo they found a church no one prayed in and they lived there and for three weeks had stained glass for windows…They got chased out and went to Shepparton but Shane had a run-in and police said move.

Shane, Moira and Midge, along with young Zara and Rory, are ‘trants’—itinerants roaming the plains north-west of Melbourne in search of disused houses to sleep in, or to strip of heritage fittings when funds are low. When they find their Tree Palace outside Barleyville, things are looking up. At last, a place in which to settle down.

But Zara, fifteen, is pregnant and doesn’t want a child. She’d more…

About the AuthorCraigSherborne

Craig Sherborne’s memoir Hoi Polloi (2005) was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. The follow-up, Muck (2007), won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Non-fiction. Craig’s first novel, The Amateur Science of Love, won the Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Best Writing Award, and was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and a NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Craig has also written two volumes of poetry, Bullion (1995) and Necessary Evil (2005), and a verse drama, Look at Everything Twice for Me (1999). His writing has appeared in most of Australia’s literary journals and anthologies. He lives in Melbourne.

Grab a copy of Tree Palace here


isbn9780733632341Nest

by Inga Simpson

Once an artist and teacher, Jen now spends her time watching the birds around her house and tending her lush sub-tropical garden near the small town where she grew up. The only person she sees regularly is Henry, who comes after school for drawing lessons. When a girl in Henry’s class goes missing, Jen is pulled back into the depths of her own past.

When she was Henry’s age she lost her father and her best friend Michael – both within a week. The whole town talked about it then, and now, nearly forty years later, they’re talking about it again. Everyone is waiting – for the girl to be found and the summer rain to arrive. At last, when the answers do come, like the wet, it is in a drenching, revitalising downpour.

Inga_Simpson-detailAbout the Author

Inga Simpson is a fresh new voice in Australian writing. She is inspired by regular people and the changing seasons of their lives. Inga began her career as a professional writer for government before gaining a PhD in creative writing. In 2011, she took part in the Queensland Writer’s Centre Manuscript Development Program and as a result, Hachette published her first novel, the acclaimed Mr Wigg, in 2013.

Grab a copy of Nest here


What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her March reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The FallsThe French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

With nine books to read and judge for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA awards – none of which I can tell you about, sorry! – I didn’t have much personal reading time left. But I did manage three wonderful books.


Revival 

by Stephen King

King’s storytelling never ceases to amaze me. I kept pausing to try and work out what it was that made this book such a page-turner, but it was a wasted exercise. Each time I tried to analyse it, the story would suck me back and I’d forget what I’d stopped for in the first place.

Spanning five decades, Revival chronicles the relationship between young Jamie Morton and Reverend Charles Jacobs, a man fascinated by the power of electricity. Unhinged by tragedy, Jacobs has a meltdown while preaching, which leads to his sacking. Jamie loses a friend and mentor but as the years pass, this unlikely pair continue to cross paths. Only it appears Jacobs’s fascination has become an obsession. One with the potential to lead Jamie to hell.

Yet another disturbing and fascinating tale from the master.

Grab a copy of Revival here


Whispers Underground 

by Ben Aaronovich

This series cracks me up. It’s such FUN!

Whispers Underground is the third Constable Peter Gant adventure, and trainee wizard Peter is really started to hit his straps. A dead American art student is found in an underground station but this isn’t any ordinary murder. There’s a whiff of magic, and that means Peter and his boss, Inspector Nightingale, must lend a hand. What follows is a wonderful romp through London’s labyrinthine underground world, as well as adventures above. There are chases through sewers and Tube lines, a bit of fun-poking at the art world, some FBI meddling, and encounters with London’s gods and goddesses and other paranormal creatures.

Another witty and clever tale from Aaronovich. Highly recommended. These books make you feel good!

 Grab a copy of Whispers Underground here


The Princess Bride

by William Goldman

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never seen the film The Princess Bride so I had no idea what this book would be like, let alone about. All I knew was that the film was a cult classic, and was a bit bemused to find that the book came after the film. I assumed it was the other way around.

It was, however, brilliantly weird.

Goldman claims that this book is his abridged version of S. Morgenstern’s classic tale, a story his father used to read to him. But Goldman discovers as an adult that his father never narrated the whole book, only the good bits because the original is bloated with dull detail. So Goldman sets out to create a new version. The rollicking romantic tale of The Princess Bride is there in all its quirky glory, but what makes this extra entertaining are Goldman’s interruptions and comments about everything from the movie to law suits from Morgenstern’s estate. There’s even a cameo by Stephen King.

A hoot! Now to track down a copy of the film and complete my Princess Bride education.

Grab a copy of The Princess Bride here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

 Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The Falls

by Cathryn Hein

For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.

Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.

But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.

Grab a copy of The Falls here

BOOK REVIEW: The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox (Review by Caroline Baum)

First of all the cover: this has to be one of the most stylish and eye-catching jackets of the year, signposting both the amorous subject matter but also a kind of sexily suave Mad Men Don Draper silhouette that suggests surface sleekness concealing enigmatic multiple identities.

The sophisticated packaging delivers on its promise – and then some. This is one of the big books of the year. You know that phrase that critics use about a writer at the peak of his powers? Well, this is the time to apply that to Knox, who has been one of our most significant writers mining aspects of contemporary masculinity for a while in novels like Summerland and The Life.

Here he applies his customary cool, detached and forensic tone to a story that is enigmatic, satirical and rich in layers and symbolism. It is disconcertingly strange at first, especially in its removed, rationally detached voice but don’t let that put you off. Get past the initial chill of the first fifty pages and you will find yourself increasingly seduced by the tale of John Wonder and his women.

The comparison with Don Draper goes beyond the packaging. Because the point is that both men are indeed enigmas who conceal their inner and private lives from themselves and from others, enabled by careers that allow them to move seamlessly between worlds.

Except what makes John Wonder so very different from Don Draper is that the outer casing of the man is not inherently attractive. He does not possess a handsome physique and nor is he charismatic when it comes to his personality. He is, according to one of his six collective narrator children, odourless and bland. Women feel safe around him because he is not predatory by nature. And indeed, unlike Draper’s glamorous world of advertising, Wonder’s is far more pedestrian and pedantic: he is a senior factoid who authenticates official statistics for publications of record. Hardly the sexiest of titles.

Happily married simultaneously, and able to juggle the demands of three sets of children (all called Adam and Evie, presumably to avoid confusion) he then decides to set himself a new challenge: to authenticate the world’s most beautiful woman. And that’s where he comes disastrously unstuck. When he finds her, his multiple lives unravel.

The scenario provides for plenty of comedy though it is not of the farcical ‘quick-now-hide in-the-cupboard’ kind (with the exception of a muddle involving a Hyundai car). It is more cerebral than that kind of romp. Knox hits his comic stride in his characterisation of Wife Number Two, a fiery type who can’t distinguish between the expressions ‘because’ and ‘that’s why’, (I can’t help but imagine Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara in this role).

Will Wonder’s serial infidelities see him damned, punished and abandoned? And what of the world’s most beautiful woman? What does she make of Wonder’s protracted infatuation and courtship? Can his children ever forgive his betrayal? The climax of the story has an inevitability about it, as all moral fables do, and a surprising warmth that Don Draper, whose adventures in parallel lives end later this year, might envy.

Grab a copy of The Wonder Lover here

——————————————————-

Caroline Baum has worked as founding editor of Good Reading magazine, features editor for Vogue, presenter of ABC TV’s popular bookshow, Between the Lines, and Foxtel’s Talking Books, and as an executive producer with ABC Radio National. She is currently Booktopia’s Editorial Director.


The Wonder Lover

by Malcolm Knox

The compartments in our father’s life were not the separations he needed to build to preserve his sanity. They were his sanity. When he fell in love… when he fell to the abjection he deserved, the walls began dissolving. And once the walls came down between all three, or now four, of his lives, so did every other retaining wall – between past and present, present and future, self- and non-self, dream and wakefulness. The walls were his sanity. Love had driven him mad….

This is the story of John Wonder, a man with three families, each one kept secret from the other, each one containing two children, a boy and a girl, each called Adam and Evie. As he travels from family to family in different cities, he works as an Authenticator, verifying world records, confirming facts, setting things straight, while his own life is a teetering tower of breathtaking lies and betrayals…

About the Author

Malcolm Knox is the author of Summerland, A Private Man and Jamaica, which was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award last year and won the Colin Roderick Award. He is also a Walkley- Award-winning journalist and author of many non-fiction titles. He came late to surfing, but is now an obsessively enthusiastic surfer, and writes about surfing and the surf with authority and great passion.

Grab a copy of The Wonder Lover here

Details of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel ‘Purity’ revealed

Jonathan Franzen fans will get to sink their teeth into another serving from the acclaimed author later this year, with his fifth novel, Purity, to be released in September.

purityFew details about the novel have emerged until now, although Franzen has previously hinted at its length (496 pages) in interviews, saying:

“I’ve let go of any illusion that I’m a writer of 150-page novels. I need room to let things turn around over time and see them from the whole lives of other characters, not just the single character. For better or worse, one point of view never seems to do it for me”.

Here’s the blurb:

Young Pip Tyler doesn’t know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she’s saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she’s squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother – her only family – is hazardous. But she doesn’t have a clue who her father is, why her mother has always concealed her own real name, or how she can ever have a normal life.Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with The Sunlight Project, an organisation that traffics in all the secrets of the world – including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic provocateur who rose to fame in the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now on the lam in Bolivia, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn’t understand, and the intensity of her response to him upends her conventional ideas of right and wrong.

Purity is a dark-hued comedy of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder. The author of Freedom and The Corrections has created yet another cast of vividly original characters, Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers, and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Jonathan Franzen is a major author of our time, and Purity is his edgiest and most searching book yet.

Franzen has always been an intriguing figure, oscillating between academic everyman and literary snob at different times since the release of his acclaimed third novel The Corrections in 2001. Does he still have what it takes to write another Great American Novel?

Will Purity live up to the hype? We loved Freedom, so fingers crossed!

Love Franzen? Pre-order your copy of Purity here

Winners of the 2014 Australian Romance Readers Awards!

The 2015 Australian Romance Readers Convention has come and gone, but we are not sad because we are left with a great list of award winning authors and having met so many new authors, hundreds of new books to read.

See what Booktopia’s John Purcell and Andrew Cattanach got up to at the convention here.


WINNERS

Favourite Cover: the winner was Play by Kylie Scott.outback-ghost

Sexiest Hero: the winner was Adam in Outback Ghost by Rachael Johns.

Favourite New Romance Author: Alli Sinclair.

shield-of-winterFavourite Paranormal Romance for 2014: Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh.

Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance 2014: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews.

Favourite Short Category Romance 2014: The Honeymoon Trap by Kelly Hunter.

Favourite Historical Romance 2014: The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie.

Favourite Contemporary Romance 2014: Play by Kylie Scott.lick

The Favourite Erotic Romance 2014: Down and Dirty by Rhian Cahill, Lexxie Couper, Jess Dee and Sami Lee.

Favourite Romantic Suspense 2014: Safe Harbour by Helene Young.

Favourite Continuing Romance Series 2014: Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott.

The Favourite Australian Romance Author 2014: Kylie Scott.


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The 2015 Stella Prize Shortlist announced!

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The shortlist for the 2015 Stella Prize has just been announced, and what an exciting list of Australian authors it is!

Named after one of Australia’s most important female authors, Stella Maria Miles Franklin, The Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s contribution to literature, awarded last year to Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.

Don’t miss the chance to grab a copy of these fantastic books and judge them for yourself with the help of Booktopia.

Executive Director of the Stella Prize, Aviva Tuffield, says:
‘We are thrilled with the strength and diversity of the 2015 Stella Prize shortlist. These six remarkable books explore themes of identity, family, displacement and belonging, with distinctly Australian resonances. Two of the books are debut works, which speaks to the talent of Australian women writers, even those just beginning their careers as authors. We are immensely  grateful for the determination and rigour of our judging panel, who selected these six excellent, original and engaging books.’

stella picThe 2015 Stella Prize will be awarded in Melbourne on the evening of Tuesday 21 April.


THE 2015 STELLA PRIZE SHORTLIST: JUDGES’ REPORT

The Golden Age

by Joan London

The time is the early 1950s, the place Perth. The Gold family, survivors and refugees from wartime Europe, have been blasted by the fates once more: their only child, Frank, has been caught up in the polio epidemic and is now recovering in a halfway house for convalescent children, a converted pub called The Golden Age.

Through the Gold family and their various acquaintances, London explores the social and emotional implications of her story with quiet power and precision, using the tale of one family at one moment in the social history of Australia to illustrate more abstract and general themes. It’s a story of exile, transition, and resilience; it shows the power of vocation and the fragility of love. And in its account of how it feels to belong to a displaced, marginalised and vulnerable race recently threatened with genocide, it has some delicate reverberations for the oldest Australians as well
as for the newest.

About the Author

Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, was published in 2001, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards. Joan London’s books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age (2014) is her third novel.

Grab a copy of The Golden Age here


The Strays

by Emily Bitto

Lily is an only child, and when she befriends the exotic Eva – daughter of artists and ‘old money’ – at school, it’s the beginning of the kind of love affair that solitary
children often have with large exuberant families. But this is bohemian Melbourne in the 1930s, and in many ways it’s not a good place for any child to be. As the girls
grow up their world gets darker and more complex, eventually imploding into scandal.

While it’s partly inspired by the real-life 1930s artists’ colony at Heide in Melbourne, this novel’s characters and plot are wholly fictional and the result is a satisfyingly cohesive vision and story. With its reflective tone, rhythmic style, and vivid scenes, Bitto’s novel illuminates the history of a particular time, place and way of living, but it also draws out the more abstract themes, common to all times and places, of friendship, memory, ambition, and family life.

About the Author

Emily Bitto lives in Melbourne. She has a Masters in literary studies and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne, where she is also a sessional teacher and supervisor in the creative writing program. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including Meanjin, Heat, Harvest, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Literary Review. The manuscript of her debut novel, The Strays, was shortlisted for the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Grab a copy of The Strays here


Foreign Soil

by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is a performance poet, acutely aware of the accents, idioms and cadences of the spoken word, and her gift with voices – their origins, their meanings, their struggles and triumphs with alien English – is at the heart of this collection of stories. All ten stories deal with displacement in some form, and some of that displacement has been violent: there are stories of racial conflict in Brixton, of asylum seekers in flight from the Tamil Tigers, of psychological and physical violence between a naïve white-Australian wife in a strange land and her twice-displaced African husband.

Although these are stories about inequalities of power in the intersections of class and race, Beneba Clarke also uses narrative voices and the effects of dialogue to show characters attempting to create and assert a coherent self through the power of speech. Her work is profoundly political, but it is also more than that.

About the Author

Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent and the author of the poetry collections Gil Scott Heron Is On Parole (Picaro Press, 2009) and Nothing Here Needs Fixing (Picaro Press, forthcoming). As a spoken word performer, Maxine’s work has been delivered on stages and airways, and in festivals across the country. Her short fiction, essays and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, The Age, Big Issue, Cordite Poetry Review, Harvest, Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, Unusual Work and Peril. Maxine lives in Melbourne, Victoria.

Grab a copy of Foreign Soil here


The Invisible History of the Human Race

by Christine Kenneally

The sciences and the humanities are traditionally thought of as separate, or even as opposite, fields of study and endeavour, but Christine Kenneally moves on from this kind of thinking in her fascinating exploration of DNA and what it tells us about our individual, social, and anthropological pasts, bringing genetics and history together via the concepts of ancestry and inheritance. At every stage of this book, the data, the facts and the ideas are illustrated and enlivened by personal stories of individual lives and discoveries.

Kenneally uses the contemporary enthusiasm for genealogy and family history as an accessible entry point for the general reader, giving us a wonderful assortment of insights into the meaning and value of the past. To read this book is to be in the company of a dynamic, ardent mind, talking in a friendly authorial voice and never talking down.

About the Author

Christine Kenneally is Australian and received her Ph.D. in linguistics at Cambridge. She has written about language, science, and culture for publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, Scientific American, Discover, and Slate..

Grab a copy of Invisible History of the Human Race here


The Eye of the Sheep

by Sofie Laguna

Jimmy Flick isn’t an ordinary child, and as his story progresses we quickly realise that he has some unspecified condition, probably somewhere on the autism spectrum. He can’t slow down, he can’t calm down, and he can’t respond appropriately in difficult or even dangerous situations, but his world view is unique and full of unexpected insights. His father, defeated by the difficulties of living with such a child, takes to drink and domestic violence. And then things get worse.

Sofie Laguna faultlessly maintains the storytelling voice of Jimmy, who is oblivious in some ways and hauntingly knowing and observant in others. There are many places in which such a story could tip over into sentimentality or melodrama, but Laguna’s authorial control and intelligence keep the story on track and the reader engaged and empathetic, and she manages both the humour and the darkness of this story with great sensitivity and control.

About the Author

Sofie Laguna originally studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she trained as an actor. Sofie is now an author, actor and playwright. Her books for young people have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Sofie’s first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, was also published throughout Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom. Sofie has written the screenplay for the film of One Foot Wrong, scheduled for pre-production in 2014.

Grab a copy of The Eye of the Sheep here


Heat and Light

by Ellen Van Neerven

This unusually structured collection of stories is divided into three sections, each named for some elemental quality in nature: Heat, Water, Light. They are environmental metaphors that serve as rich touchstones for the layered meanings of individual stories. ‘Heat’ is a sequence of closely interlinked family stories; ‘Water’, a futuristic novella, is kind of ecological speculative fiction and a very unusual love story; ‘Light’ is a collection of stand-alone stories, though certain themes and subjects recur here as they do throughout the book.

Van Neerven moves with ease between realism and fantasy, using elements of myth and mysticism in her storytelling. From one story to the next, the content is always rich and suggestive and the writing is always beautiful and clever. Each of these stories is told with passion and conviction; van Neerven writes with the confidence, maturity, and subtlety of someone twice her age, and with startling originality.

About the Author

Ellen van Neerven is a writer of Mununjali and Dutch heritage. She belongs to the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast and Scenic Rim. She won the David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer in the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards for Heat and Light.

Grab a copy of Heat and Light here

Have you won a Retro Prize Pack worth $225?

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Because so many people have been loving the Retro Pictorial series, we gave one lucky person the chance to win the whole lot!

All you had to do to win this awesome pack,  worth $225, was buy a book from the Retro Pictorial series.

…and the winner is:

S.Martino, Loftus, NSW


Congratulations to the winner!
Not a winner? Don’t worry, we have more prizes to giveaway! Check them out here.
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