REVIEW: The Pike by Lucy Hughes- Hallett (review by Lucinda Holdforth) #swf2014

Order The Pike Gabriele D'Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War hereDon’t be put off by the apparently obscure subject and considerable heft of Lucy Hughes-Hallet’s wonderful biography of Gabriele D’Annunzio, The Pike.

D’Annunzio leaps off the page as a sex-mad spendthrift poet; a crack-pot warrior who led a small army to seize and rule an Istrian port city; and an almost-but-not quite-comic prototype for Mussolini’s Fascism.

The Pike is a gripping portrait of a man acting out his own Nietzschean fantasies, but it also offers rare insight into that strange early 20th century period when so many Europeans, perhaps in what historian Christopher Clark termed “a crisis of masculinity”, came to view violent conflict as a desirable end in itself.

D’Annunzio was one of the most lavish proponents of this view – extolling blood, death and slaughter as a form of glorious masculine hygiene and nation-building.

Hughes-Hallett takes us deep into D’Annunzio’s bizarre world, and we emerge repelled but fascinated, and enlightened.

I’ll never look at Italy the same way again. And I have put a visit to D’Annunzio’s final folly, his house Il Vittoriale on Lake Garda, on my must-see list next time I visit. Review by Lucinda Holdforth

The Pike won the Samuel Johnson Prize and it was chosen as Book of the Year by more critics than any other book in 2013!

Lucy Hughes-Hallet will be at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in May this year -
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Order The Pike Gabriele D'Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War hereThe Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War

The story of Gabriele D’Annunzio, poet, writer, novelist, dramatist, daredevil, and one of the early precursors of Fascism.

In September 1919 Gabriele D’Annunzio, successful poet, dramatist and occasional politician with an innate flair for the melodramatic, declared himself the Commandante of the city of Fiume in modern day Croatia. He intended to establish the utopian modern state upon his muddled fascist and artistic ideals and create a social paradigm for the rest of the world. It was a fittingly dramatic pinnacle to a career that had been essentially theatrical.

In her new book Lucy Hughes-Hallett charts the enthralling but controversial life of D’Annunzio – acclaimed poet and author, legendary seducer and charmer – who lived an extravagant and debt-ridden life, and became a military and national hero. He evolved from an idealistic poet, who allied himself with the Romantic aesthetic, to an instigator of radical right-wing revolt against democratic authority.

D’Annunzio’s colourful story is also a political parable: through his apparently contradictory nature and the eventual failure of the Fiume endeavour, a picture is created of the politically turbulent Europe of the early 20th century and of the poison of emergent fascism.

As in the successful Heroes, Hughes-Hallett takes the story of a memorable character’s life to explore the society and politics of the times in which he lived. She raises questions concerning the figure of the ‘superman’, the cult of nationalism and the origins of political extremism and war. At the centre however stands the flamboyant and charismatic D’Annunzio: a figure as deplorable as he is fascinating. Order a copy.

About the Author:

Author: Lucy Hughes-HallettLucy Hughes-Hallett is an award-winning cultural historian, biographer and critic. The Pike has won the Samuel Johnson Prize and it was chosen as Book of the Year by more critics than any other book in 2013. Lucy’s previous books are Heroes: A History of Hero Worship and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams, and Distortions . She began her career as a feature writer on Vogue, after having won the Vogue Talent Contest, and subsequently won the Catherine Pakenham Award for young female journalists. She was the Evening Standard’s television critic for five years and she has written on books or theatre for most of the leading British broadsheet newspapers. She has judged a number of literary prizes, including the Costa Children’s Book Award, and, most recently, the Duff Cooper Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Praise for The Pike from the Press:

‘Among the bizarre and sensational, it would be hard to beat Gabriele D’Annunzio. The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, a life of the Italian poet and self-promoter, is the acclaimed winner of the 2013 Samuel Johnson prize for nonfiction, and a biographical tour de force.

Even by Italian standards, D’Annunzio is stranger than fiction. Bestselling poet, aviator, showman, war hero, libertine and fantasist, he was the proto-fascist manifestation of that strand in Italian life that flourished under Mussolini (whom D’Annunzio despised). But he was also a European phenomenon. James Joyce compared him to Flaubert, Kipling and Tolstoy. Hughes-Hallett has previously written about heroes and supermen. D’Annunzio is the subject for which she has long been in rehearsal.

Small, self-obsessed, with very bad teeth, D’Annunzio is not an appealing character. His treatment of those close to him was shocking. His ideas were ridiculous. Hughes-Hallett justifies her interest by claiming, perhaps correctly, that D’Annunzio’s story illustrates how the glorious classical past can lead to the jackboot and the fascist manganello.I do hope this image is genuine!

D’Annunzio was also obsessed with sex and with the smell, taste, texture, and sensation of his lovers’ bodies. His letters are replete with detail which Hughes-Hallett, who revels in sensuality, has mined voraciously. The Pike, an off-putting title, is nevertheless a rich, voluptuous treat. She rightly says her subject is “half-beast, half-god”. Confronted with an unreliable subject she has adopted a method more common to novels than biographies. The result is a triumph, the biography of the year.’ Robert McCrum, Observer, ‘Books of the Year’

‘[The Pike] dramatically extends biography’s formal range to encompass a daunting theme’ TLS, ‘Books of the Year’

‘This is a magnificent portrait of a preposterous character … deplorable, brilliant, ludicrous, tragic but above all irresistible, as hundreds of women could testify. His biographer has done him full justice’ Francis Wheen, Daily Mail

‘A cracker of a biography, an extraordinary story of literary accomplishment, passionate war-mongering and sexual incorrigibility… In less skilled hands this could have been a disaster; in fact it works wonderfully well’ Spectator, ‘Books of the Year’

‘Beautiful, strange and original … an extraordinarily intimate portrait’ New StatesmanLess distressing

‘Hugely enjoyable … Hughes-Hallett has a great talent for encapsulating an era or an attitude …That almost 700 pages flew by bears testimony to how pleasurable and readable those pages were’ Sunday Times

‘A splendid subject for a biography … Hughes-Hallett dances her way through this extraordinary life in a style that is playful, punchy and generally pleasing … In death, as in life, the amazing story of D’Annunzio is painted in primary colours, but with the darkest shadows’ Observer

‘A riveting biography … It must have been so tempting to be judgemental, but Hughes-Hallett allows us to judge for ourselves’ Antonia Fraser, Daily Mail, ‘Books of the Year’

‘Not only an inspired telling of a life that becomes more repellent with each page, it illuminates early 20th-century Europe in brilliant, unexpected ways’ Observer

‘Electrifying … a fascinating portrait … Hughes-Hallett relates his journey from romantic idealist to Right-wing warmonger with flair and insight’ Daily Express

What Katie Read – The Double Edition! (by award-winning author Kate Forsyth)

One of Australia’s favourite novelists Kate Forsyth, author of Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl, continues her monthly blog with us, giving her verdict on the books she’s been reading.


Kate Forsyth: The last few months have been insanely busy for me, with all sorts of deadlines whizzing past my ears as a consequence of having four books with three different publishers coming out this year, as well as a hectic touring schedule. As a result, my usual rate of reading has been much slowed as I spent most evenings writing instead. Nonetheless, I managed quite a few books in February and March, including two absolutely brilliant books which made me lime-green with jealousy at the writers’ talent. YOU MUST READ THESE BOOKS!


9780006479888A Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire & Ice
by George R. R. Martin

I feel as if I must be the last person in the world to read A Game of Thrones. And I love fantasy fiction! I think I decided some years ago to wait till the whole series was out before I began to read it … but of course, it still isn’t finished.

So I decided I really should be more in step with my times and so I limbered up my arm muscles and picked up the first book in the series.

What did I think? I really enjoyed it. The world building is unusually deep and vivid, and the story is full of surprises. Although it’s a big book, with a lot of characters, I didn’t feel the pace dragged. I loved the dire-wolves and the child protagonists, and I loved the political intrigue. I’ll go on and read Book 2, and I may even watch the TV series …

Click here for more details about A Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire & Ice


A Dreadful Murder9781743317006
by Minette Walters

This book is published as a ‘Quick Read’, which describes it very well. The book is only 122 pages long and that’s with nice, big font size. It really is a novella, but it was perfect size to be read in a single setting which was something I wanted after plowing through A Game of Thrones night after night.
The book is based on the true story of the murder of Caroline Luard, which took place in Kent in August 1908. Her body was found dead in broad daylight in the grounds of the large country estate in which she lived with her husband. It does not take long for the village to begin accusing her husband of the murder and eventually he committed suicide, unable to live under the cloud of suspicion.
Minette Walters retells the story in simple and concise language, postulating another theory as to the identity of the murderer. Her conclusions feel right to me, and I can’t help feeling sorry for Mr Luard.

Click here for more details about A Dreadful Murder


9780425233085Revealed
by Kate Noble

I really enjoyed Let it Be Me, a fresh and sparkling Regency romance by Kate Noble, and so thought I’d try another by the same author. Revealed is not quite as wonderful as Let it Be Me, but it was amusing and charming and the romance was really quite sweet. I was not overly fond of the heroine when the book began because she was so perfect – beautiful, rich, with exquisite taste – blah, blah, blah. But she did grow new depths as the story continued and became much less of a spoiled princess. And I loved the spy sub-plot. I always think a romance is improved with a little murder, mayhem, or intrigue thrown into the mix.

Click here for more details about Revealed


Night9780141038995
by Elie Wiesel

This slender book is Elie Wiesel’s harrowing account of his teenage years, spent in Auschwitz. It is told very simply and bleakly, without much description or dialogue, as if spoken to someone quietly listening. This makes it feel very pure and real, though sometimes the effect is one of emotional numbness which is, in its way, even more heart-wrenching. Wiesel describes the taking away of his mother and little sister to the gas chambers, his struggle to survive and to look after his father, and his own loss of faith in God and humanity with the same clear and unfettered honesty. I ended the book with such a lump in my throat I could scarcely draw a breath. A profoundly moving book, and one that everyone should read. My edition came with Wiesel’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize:
“And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of universe.”

It made me want to speak out for all the injustices I see in the world and ashamed of myself for not doing so.

Click here for more details about Night


9781472200341The Ocean At the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman

I have never really got the Neil-Gaiman-as-literary-god thing. I’ve read quite a lot of his books and enjoyed them all, particularly Stardust. I really liked The Graveyard Book too, and thought it had some lovely writing in it. But he didn’t give me goosebumps. He didn’t make me prickle all over with awe and amazement. He didn’t bring that lump into my throat and that prickle of tears into my eyes, which is how I always know if a book is truly great.
Well, now he has. The Ocean At the End of the Lane is a truly great book. It’s full of Big Ideas, yet is still a compulsively readable story. In a way, it’s very hard to categorise. It’s neither a book for adults or for children, but a book that can be read by both. In fact, I can see it being one of those touchstone books, that a child reads and loves, and returns to again and again as an adult and finding ever new things in it. Yet it is such a slim book. Like the pond at the end of the lane, that is really an ocean that contains within it the whole universe, this book is brimming over mystery, magic, and wisdom. I am awed and amazed, and so, so jealous of Neil Gaiman’s talent. This is a book I wish I could write.

Click here for more details about The Ocean At the End of the Lane


A Wrinkle in Timeprod978031236754
by Madeleine L’ Engle

Reading Nail Gaiman’s utterly brilliant novel The Ocean At the End of the Lane reminded me of a book I had loved as a teenager but had not read again in years - A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Éngle. So I dug out my tattered old paperback (this is why I never get rid of books – so I can put my hand on a book whenever I want it) and read it again for the first time in many years. First published in 1962, A Wrinkle in Time is older than I am but it has survived the years remarkably well. It too is a novel full of Big Ideas expressed through a very readable story, with a beguiling mixture of humour and horror, philosophy and fantasy. It is a very different book from Neil Gaiman’s but both have a trio of three women who seem very ordinary on the outside but are indeed both mysterious and powerful. I’m really glad I read it again and I have gone and put both books on my teenage son’s bedside table.

Click here for more details about A Wrinkle in Time


9781742612454The Caller
by Juliet Marillier

This is the third and last book in Juliet Marillier’s gorgeous YA fantasy Shadowfell trilogy. I have really enjoyed these books, which are, as always with Juliet’s books, filled with wit, warmth and wisdom. You must read them in order – Shadowfell, Raven Flight, then The Caller – as the books tell the story of the continuing adventures of Neryn and her journey to understand and control her magical talents as a Caller. Set in a land very much like ancient Scotland, with all manner of extraordinary faery creatures, the Shadowfell books weave together history, fantasy, folklore and ancient wisdoms to create a beautiful and powerful story. These books are a perfect read for a dreamy, romantic teenage girl – I love them now but oh! How I would have loved them when I was fifteen.

Click here for more details about The Caller


Dance on the Volcano: A Teenage Girl in Nazi Germany 9781609101145
by Renata Zerner

Children of Terror
by Inge Auerbacher & Bozenna Urbanowicz Gilbride

As part of my research for a novel I am writing that is set in Nazi Germany, I am reading a great many memoirs of people who lived during those terrible times. Although neither of these memoirs has the poetic intensity of Elie Wiesel’s heart-wrenching Night, they are nonetheless poignant and distressing, particularly Children of Terror which is written by two concentration camp survivors. It seems impossible that such things can have happened. Yet they did. It’s so important that we read these stories and make sure that such atrocities can never happen again.

Click here for more details about Dance on the Volcano: A Teenage Girl in Nazi Germany


9781477817445True to the Highlander
by Barbara Longley

After reading a few emotionally harrowing books, I felt in desperate need of some light romance. True to the Highlander was perfect. Utterly predictable, but done with flair and humour, and I always love a medieval Scottish Highlands setting.

Click here for more details about True to the Highlander


The Paris Affair 9780758283931
by Teresa Grant

Teresa Grant has written a series of historical mystery novels set during and just after the Napoleonic Wars. Her French heroine Suzanne is married to an English attaché and spy, and together they negotiate their way through murder, intrigue and passion. The stories are always a little slow, but the historical detail is spot-on and the interaction between the characters and their slowly unfolding relationships makes up for it.

Click here for more details about The Paris Affair


the-fault-in-our-stars-film-tie-in-edition-The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

I have had this book on my shelf for over a year now and have been avoiding reading it because I knew it was going to be a harrowing read. And it is! However, it is also utterly brilliant. It deserves every bit of praise it has garnered. I urge you all: READ IT! Another book which I am insanely jealous about and wish that I could have written.

Click here for more details about The Fault in Our Stars


Cart & Cwidder
by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favourite writers from my childhood and Cart & Cwidder is one of my favourite of her books, and so it was the one I chose to re-read for DWJ-month in the blogosphere – a global celebration of her books and writing. This is the story of a family of musical travellers in a world divided between North and South, and has DWJ’s trademark mix of the ordinary and the magical. A truly delightful children’s fantasy.

 

 


Kate Forsyth is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both children and adults. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite Novelists, coming in atKate FNo 16. She has been called one of ‘the finest writers of this generation”, and “quite possibly … one of the best story tellers of our modern age.’

Click here to see Kate’s author page

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

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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

 

Six Great Books By Six Great Songwriters

Not since the 60s folk scene have the lines been so brilliantly blurred between music, art and literature. From the extraordinary lyricism of Australian indie rock gods The Drones to the extravagant avant-garde persona of Kanye West, to be a musician is to be a songwriter is to be an artist once again.

And the upside of this? Not only do we get to listen to great music, but also read books from musicians who double as incredibly talented writers. From gritty memoirs to musical anthologies, here’s a collection of great books by musicians written in the last few years. And of course, we play DJ a little bit as well!


Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop

by Bob Stanley

Bob Stanley is the driving force behind Pop-Indie-Progressive group Saint-Etienne, and possibly the only person both qualified and crazy enough to have written a detailed history of modern pop music, the magnificently titled Yeah Yeah Yeah. Stanley drifts between artist, critic and casual observer with incredible ease. Obviously, as an account of modern pop music, it’s a big fat book, but that’s what makes it so appealing.

Like pop music, there’s something for everyone. You can read it from the start piously or flick through it again and again, extracting another brilliant nugget from its pages. From The Velvet Underground to ABBA, Yeah Yeah Yeah is the perfect way to start your pop journey with a bang, or continue it with a boom.

 Grab a copy of Yeah Yeah Yeah here

Saint Etienne – Heart Failed in the Back of a Taxi

Fact: Saint Etienne have commissioned LP sleevenotes from the likes of Douglas Coupland, Jeremy Deller and Jon Savage.

Grab a copy of Yeah Yeah Yeah here


Chronicles: Volume 1

by Bob Dylan

Okay, so it’s not exactly a surprise that Bob Dylan would be a phenomenal writer. He’s, in my opinion, the greatest songwriter to ever live and would be a worthy recipient of The Nobel Prize for Literature. But what makes Chronicles: Volume 1 so great? It’s that his voice is different. It’s not the sarcastic and acerbic voice that has dominated much of his work, nor the whiskey tinged croak of regret that has mesmerized us over the last decade. He’s warm, open, and honest.

So many of his finest songs are filled with regret, and yet Chronicles doesn’t so much dwell on his successes and mistakes, but cites them as each a brushstroke in the giant mural of his early life. A beautiful book, with Volume 2 hopefully on the way soon.

Grab a copy of Chronicles: Volume 1 here

Bob Dylan – Desolation Row

Lyric: And Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot/Fighting in the captain’s tower/While calypso singers laugh at them/And fishermen hold flowers

Grab a copy of Chronicles: Volume 1 here


Romany and Tom

by Ben Watt

Ben Watt was one half of Everything But The Girl. Commonly referred to as one-hit-wonders, they were much, much more than that, a worthy stablemate of Portishead and Massive Attack in the UK’s mid-nineties musical resurgence. This is just a beautiful, beautiful book. Anyone with aging parents will both adore and be haunted by Romany and Tom for the same reasons. It’s so poignant, raw, real and full of love. Watt’s reflections of his parents as they battle to ‘make it work’ are incredibly bittersweet.

He describes a childhood filled with British-Bohemian eccentricities and a love for his parents that perhaps they never shared with eachother. Romany and Tom is a book that will stay with you for days after finishing it, such gorgeous honesty from a wonderful writer.

Grab a copy of Romany and Tom here

Everything But The Girl – Missing

Fact: Ben Watt chose to study at Hull University because Philip Larkin was a librarian there

Grab a copy of Romany and Tom here


Just Kids

by Patti Smith

Patti Smith has me, as she would say somewhat more explicitly, by the you-know-whats. The first time I listened to her seminal album Horses, it knocked my socks off. And in a strange way Just Kids has the exact opposite effect. There’s something warm in her voice, the glow of nostalgia.

Patti Smith came to New York to be a writer, and in the village scene she discovered her true calling, to be a singer-songwriter. Just Kids gives me goosebumps when I read it, it’s so warm and unpretentious, you completely forget that this is Patti Smith writing, the Queen of Punk. Deeply personal and at points riotously funny, Just Kids is a masterpiece.

Grab a copy of Just Kids here

Patti Smith – Gloria

Lyric: Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine

Grab a copy of Just Kids here


The Death of Bunny Munro

by Nick Cave

Again, not breaking news that Nick Cave is a great writer. His first novel And The Ass Saw The Angel was proof of that. But it feels as though The Death of Bunny Munro was the novel he was born to write.

Mixing pop culture references (he apologises to his friend Kylie Minogue in the acknowledgements, for good reason), stunning imagery and a view of the world only Nick Cave could manufacture, The Death of Bunny Munro is a bit of everything. Witty and blunt, dark and light, funny and tragic. It’s a great book you won’t forget in a hurry.

Grab a copy of The Death of Bunny Munro here

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – There She Goes my Beautiful World

Lyric: John Willmot penned his poetry/Riddled with the pox/Nabakov wrote on index cards/At a lectern in his socks

Grab a copy of The Death of Bunny Munro here


Autobiography

by Morrissey

With flourishes Oscar Wilde would be proud of, Morrissey’s Autobiography is everything I hoped it would be. One of the most innovative lyricists of his generation, Morrissey, both as a solo artist and with The Smiths, were the driving force behind the resurgence of British music in the 1990′s, with his rich lyrics juxtaposed perfectly with the jangling blue collar sounds of Johnny Marr’s guitar.

Autobiography is full of wonderful lines about growing up in the dank, dark world of working-class Manchester, with razor-sharp wit on every page and some scores settled gracefully along the way.

Grab a copy of Autobiography here

The Smiths – Cemetry Gates

Lyric: A dreaded sunny day/So I meet you at the cemetry gates/Keats and Yeats are on your side/While Wilde is on mine

Grab a copy of Autobiography here


Andrew is a contributor to The Booktopia Blog and has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize. His lack of musical ability continues to disappoint his mother.

You can follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat

The 2014 Miles Franklin Longlist announced

A brilliantly diverse longlist has been announced for this year’s Miles Franklin Award. In a wonderful year of Australian writing, heavyweights Tim Winton, Richard Flanagan and Alexis Wright are joined by some incredibly talented first time nominees like Fiona MacFarlane and Evie Wyld.

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

You can also see a special series for this year’s longlist on our website by clicking here.


The Narrow Road to the Deep North

by Richard Flanagan

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

 

About the Author

Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961. His novels, Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, and Wanting have received numerous honours and are published in twenty-six countries. He directed a feature film version of The Sound of One Hand Clapping. A collection of his essays is published as And What Do You Do, Mr Gable?.

Grab a copy of The Narrow Road to the Deep North here


The Night Guest

by Fiona McFarlane

One morning Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she’s blown in from the sea. In fact she’s come to care for Ruth. Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem.

Which of them can Ruth trust? And as memories of her childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, can she even trust herself?

The Night Guest is mesmerising novel about love, dependence, and the fear that the things you know best can become the things you’re least certain about. It introduces a writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to tap the mysterious workings of our minds, and keeping us spellbound.

About the Author

Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, and has degrees in English from Sydney University and Cambridge University, and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, the Best Australian Stories and the New Yorker, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy and the Australia Council for the Arts. The Night Guest, her debut novel, has sold into fifteen territories around the world. She lives in Sydney.

Grab a copy of The Night Guest here


Eyrie

by Tim Winton

Divorced and unemployed, he’s lost faith in everything precious to him. Holed up in a grim highrise, cultivating his newfound isolation, Keely looks down at a society from which he’s retired hurt and angry. He’s done fighting the good fight, and well past caring.

But even in his seedy flat, ducking the neighbours, he’s not safe from entanglement. All it takes is an awkward encounter in the lobby. A woman from his past, a boy the likes of which he’s never met before. Two strangers leading a life beyond his experience and into whose orbit he falls despite himself.

What follows is a heart-stopping, groundbreaking novel for our times – funny, confronting, exhilarating and haunting. Inhabited by unforgettable characters, Eyrie asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.

About the Author

Tim Winton has published twenty-one books for adults and children, and his work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Since his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the Australian/Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Award four times (for Shallows, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and Breath) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders and Dirt Music). He lives in Western Australia.

Grab a copy of Eyrie here


The Swan Book

by Alexis Wright

The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute teenager called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans driven from other parts of the country, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city.

The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the wild energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale.

 

About the Author

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her books include Grog War , a study of alcohol abuse in Tennant Creek , and the novels Plains of Promise , and Carpentaria , which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Victorian and Queensland Premiers’ Awards and the ALS Gold Medal, and was published in the US, UK, China, Italy, France, Spain and Poland. She is a Distinguished Fellow in the University of Western Sydney’s Writing and Society Research Centre.

Grab a copy of The Swan Book here


All the Birds, Singing

by Evie Wyld

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 companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.

It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake’s unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.

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.

About the Author

Evie Wyld runs Review, a small independent bookshop London. Her first novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award. In 2011 she was listed as one of the Culture Show’s Best New British Novelists. She was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Grab a copy of All the Birds, Singing here


The Railwayman’s Wife

by Ashley Hay

In a small town on the land’s edge, in the strange space at a war’s end, a widow, a poet and a doctor each try to find their own peace, and their own new story.

In Thirroul, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway’s library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank McKinnon is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.

Written in clear, shining prose and with an eloquent understanding of the human heart, The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can be sometimes to tell them apart. It’s a story of life, loss and what comes after; of connection and separation, longing and acceptance. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

A story that will break your heart with hope.

About the Author

Ashley Hay is the author of four books of non-fiction – The Secret: The strange marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron, Gum: The story of eucalypts and their champions, and Herbarium and Museum with the visual artist Robyn Stacey. A former literary editor of The Bulletin, her essays and short stories have also appeared in anthologies and journals including Brothers and Sisters, The Monthly, Heat and The Griffith Review. Ashley’s first novel, The Body in the Clouds was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize ‘Best First Book’ (South-East Asia and Pacific region) and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Grab a copy of The Railwayman’s Wife here


mullumbimbyMullumbimby

by Melissa Lucashenko

When Jo Breen uses her divorce settlement to buy a neglected property in the Byron Bay hinterland, she is hoping for a tree change, and a blossoming connection to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. What she discovers instead is sharp dissent from her teenage daughter Ellen, trouble brewing from unimpressed white neighbours, and a looming Native Title war among the local Bundjalung families. When Jo stumbles into love on one side of the Native Title divide she quickly learns that living on country is only part of the recipe for the Good Life.

Told with humour and a sharp satirical eye, Mullumbimby is a modern novel set against an ancient land.

0002041About the Author

Melissa Lucashenko is an Australian writer of mixed European and Murri (Aboriginal) heritage. She was born in Brisbane in 1967, and attended public primary and secondary schools there. Melissa received an honours degree in public policy from Griffith University, graduating in 1990. She lives between Brisbane and the Bundjalung nation.

Grab a copy of Mullumbimby here


My Beautiful Enemy

by Cory Taylor

Arthur Wheeler is haunted by his infatuation with a Japanese youth he encountered in the enemy alien camp where he worked as a guard during WW2. Abandoning his wife and baby son, Arthur sets out on a doomed mission to rescue his lover from forced deportation back to Japan, a country in ruins. Thus begins the secret history of a soldier at war with his own sexuality and dangerously at odds with the racism that underpins the crumbling British Empire.

Four decades later Arthur is still obsessed with the traumatic events of his youth. He proposes a last reunion with his lost lover, in the hope of laying his ghosts to rest, but this mission too seems doomed to failure. Like Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence and Snow Falling On Cedars, My Beautiful Enemy explores questions of desire and redemption against the background of a savage racial war. In this context, Arthur’s private battles against his own nature, and against the conventions of his time, can only end in heartache.

About the Author

Cory Taylor is an award-winning screenwriter who has also published short fiction and children’s books. Her first novel, Me and Mr Booker, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Pacific Region). She lives in Brisbane.

Grab a copy of My Beautiful Enemy here


Game

by Trevor Shearston

It is 1865. For three years Ben Hall and the men riding with him have been lords of every road in mid-western New South Wales from Bathurst to Goulburn, Lambing Flat to Forbes. But with the Harbourers’ Act made law, coach escorts armed now with the new Colt revolving rifle, and mailbags more often containing cheques than banknotes, being game is no longer enough.

The road of negotiated surrender is closed. Jack Gilbert has shot dead a police sergeant at Jugiong. Constable Nelson, father of eight, lies buried at Collector, killed by John Dunn. Neither time did Ben pull the fatal trigger, but he too will hang if ever the three are taken. Harry Hall is seven. Ben has not seen the boy since his wife Biddy left to live with another man, taking Harry with her.

The need to see his son, to be in some way a father again, has grown urgent. But how much time is left before the need to give the game away and disappear becomes the greater urgency?

About the Author

Trevor Shearston is the author of Something in the Blood, Sticks That Kill, White Lies, Concertinas, A Straight Young Back and Dead Birds. He lives in Katoomba, NSW with his family.

Grab a copy of Game here


Belomor

by Nicolas Rothwell

Elegiac and seductive, Belomor is the frontier where truth and invention meet—where fragments from distant lives intermingle, and cohere. A man seeks out the father figure who shaped his picture of the past. A painter seeks redemption after the disasters of his years in northern Australia. A student of history travels into the depths of religion, the better to escape the demons in his mind. A filmmaker seeks out freedom and open space, and looks into the murk and sediment of herself.

Four chapters: four journeys through life, separate, yet interwoven as the narrative unfolds.

In this entrancing new book from one of our most original writers, we meet European dissidents from the age of postwar communism, artists in remote Australia, snake hunters, opal miners and desert magic healers. Belomor is a meditation on time, and loss: on how the most bitter recollections bring happiness, and the meaning of a secret rests in the thoughts surrounding it.

About the Author

Nicolas Rothwell is the award-winning author of Heaven and Earth, Wings of the Kite-Hawk , Another Country , The Red Highway and Journeys to the Interior . He lives in Darwin, and is the Australian’s roving northern correspondent.

Grab a copy of Belomor here


The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt

by Tracy Farr

The debut novel from a wonderful new talent.

This is the story of Dame Lena Gaunt: musician, octogenarian, junkie.

Lena is Music’s Most Modern Musician; the first theremin player of the twentieth century.

From the obscurity of a Perth boarding school to a glittering career on the world stage, Lena Gaunt’s life will be made and torn apart by those she gives her heart to.

About the Author

Australian-born author Tracy Farr has lived in Wellington, New Zealand since 1996. Her debut novel, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt, is published by Fremantle Press.

Grab a copy of The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt here


What happens when Game of Thrones catches up with A Song of Ice and Fire?

Ever wondered what happens when Game of Thrones, the TV Show, catches up with A Song of Ice and Fire, the books?

It’s cool. George R.R. has it covered. He tells us it’s all going to be okay in this Variety magazine interview.

The season that’s about to debut covers the second half of the third book. The third book [A Storm of Swords] was so long that it had to be split into two. But there are two more books beyond that, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.

A Dance with Dragons is itself a book that’s as big as A Storm of Swords. So there’s potentially three more seasons there, between Feast and Dance, if they split into two the way they did [with Storms]. Now, Feast and Dance take place simultaneously. So you can’t do Feast and then Dance the way I did. You can combine them and do it chronologically. And it’s my hope that they’ll do it that way and then, long before they catch up with me, I’ll have published The Winds of Winter, which’ll give me another couple years.

It might be tight on the last book, A Dream of Spring, as they juggernaut forward.

He’s a smart cookie, Georgie. Clever boy.

Now listen, gather round.

The show is good. Very good. But the books are extraordinary.

I turned my nose up at them for years thinking, because I wasn’t a fantasy reader, that they weren’t for me. But I was wrong. They’re brilliant. Hard to believe, but better than the show, much better.

So don’t wait for 5 years to see what happens next. Get reading, you’ve still got time, and take pleasure in spilling spoilers to all your friends!

Do we really need to tell you how good the Song of Ice and Fire books are?
Grab one today!

 

Which Book Is Now The Biggest Drama in Australia?

Some time ago a friend of Booktopia threw a book on my desk, a post it note attached with just two words on it.

Read This

The book was a supernatural tale from a debut US author. That sentence is probably the most common used by booksellers over the past decade, and not really my cup of tea, but I took it home and flicked through it that night.

And I then I flicked through it a little more. And a little more after that.

And then I stopped flicking through it and looked at the clock.

It said 4:30am.

That’s when you know it’s a pretty good one.

And now that book is one of the biggest TV shows in Australia.

The book is The Returned, by Jason Mott.

The TV Show is Resurrection, which on Tuesday become the highest rating TV drama launch in two years, with 1.911 million viewers for the opening episode. Crazy numbers.

Sure, the TV series is good. But the book, let’s face it, is always better, and adds layers you never know existed.

The Returned. Grab a copy today. It’s big, and is going to get even bigger.

Grab a copy of Jason Mott’s The Returned today

The Returned

by Jason Mott

Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time … Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Grab a copy of Jason Mott’s The Returned today

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