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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When accepting the award, Christine said:

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

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

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

Winner of The VogelAbout the book:

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

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

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

Judges’ Comments:

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

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

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

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

About Christine Piper:

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

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

Order After Darkness here

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

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.

Click here for more details...

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

Pre-Order New Edition Now.

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.

 

Who wrote The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August?

It’s the question on everyone’s lips. Who wrote The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August? Already being spoken about as one of the books of the year, with Booktopia’s John Purcell calling it ‘fascinating’ and ‘a real page turner’, the greatest question is who could have written it?

On the book itself Claire North is described as “an acclaimed author who has previously published several novels”. Our investigations, listening in to the literary grapevine, indicate it is a UK writer, likely a woman, and one who would usually write a completely different genre to the sci-fi tinged The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

UK newspaper The Independent recently did some sleuthing and was informed that Ms North’s identity will be revealed in two weeks, with an announcement on 22 April. Fingers crossed it happens!

Grab a copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August here

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

by Claire North

The extraordinary journey of one unforgettable character – a story of friendship and betrayal, loyalty and redemption, love and loneliness and the inevitable march of time

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

Every time Harry dies, he is reborn in exactly the same time and place, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, and nothing ever changes. He only knows that there are others like him, living with, but apart, from the rest of us.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message. It has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back through generations from a thousand years forward in time. The message is that the world is ending, and we cannot prevent it. So now it’s up to you.’

This is the story of what Harry August does next – and what he did before – and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

About the Author

Claire North is a pseudonym for an acclaimed British author who has previously published several novels. This book is completely different from any of them.

Grab a copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August here

 

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


Comic Book Icon Stan Lee is coming to Australia!

The most famous name in the Comic Book World, Stan Lee, will be coming to Australia for Sydney’s Supanova Expo, held June 13-15 at the Sydney Showgrounds.

Lee created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, the Avengers, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, the Silver Surfer and countless other characters in the Marvel Comics universe.

He remains as big an icon as the characters he created.

Here’s part of the statement from Supernova organisers.

Stan “The Man” Lee, aged 91, has chosen Sydney’s Supanova Expo (June 13-15) to host his farewell tour to Australia. After heart surgery in 2012 to have a pacemaker installed, Mr. Lee now finds the long journey from his home in Beverly Hills to be pretty hard work. Yet he’s decided to keep a 28 year old commitment to Sydney fans after being listed as one of three Guests of Honour for the first and only ‘Australian Comic Book Convention’ held in 1986 at the Sydney Opera House. Back then fans were left wondering, “where’s Stan?”, after he failed to materialise with it coming to light years later that his airline tickets were never purchased to allow for his departure to Sydney.

Now though, so many years later, Mr. Lee is giving Sydney and therefore Australian fans one more opportunity for a meet-and-greet before he retires from long-haul convention journeys. We are Supa-privileged to host the man who innovated the phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility!” and has been responsible for so much joy and creativity over the last 70 odd years. With this Sydney only visit, we hope that interstate fans will join Sydneysiders in welcoming arguably the greatest creator name in comic book history.

Stan Lee has had cameos in countless films and TV shows. Here’s a collection of some of his best.

Marvel Encyclopedia

The definitive guide to the characters of the Marvel Universe

Are you fascinated by comic books and obsessed with super heroes? The bestselling Marvel Encyclopedia gives you the definitive details and histories of more than 1,200 of Marvel’s most memorable characters.

Now updated to include expanded entries for Spider-Man, Wolverine, X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and the Avengers, this unique A-Z lets you get closer to your favourite Marvel super heroes. You can find out about 50 exciting new characters, such as Odin and Doctor Nemesis, and all the latest important events in the Marvel universe, such as the Dark Reign, Avengers Vs X-Men and the Age of Ultron. Each super hero explodes from the page with original art from Marvel Comics’ finest artists and facts from a team of top Marvel comic book writers.

Grab a copy of the Marvel Encyclopedia here

Grab a copy of the Marvel Encyclopedia here

Douglas Adams’ Greatest Quotes – A Birthday Tribute

The late great Douglas Adams was born on this day 62 years ago.

An extraordinary writer, thinker and all round comic genius, Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy still remains one of the most brilliant works of satire in the English language.

As a birthday tribute, we’ve compiled some of his greatest quotes to make you smile.

It’s what Douglas would have wanted.

.

“In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.


“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.


“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.


“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.


“He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.


“A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.


“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.


“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.


“He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.”

Emma Watson to star in film adaptation of upcoming fantasy novel The Queen of the Tearling

Have you heard of The Queen of the Tearling?

No? Neither had I. In fact, it hasn’t even been published yet. But Emma Watson has heard of it. And so has the producer of the Harry Potter films, David Heyman. They were both given the manuscript to read.

“I had kind of said I would never do a franchise again, so I was desperate to hate it,” Watson said in an interview with Wonderland magazine this month.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep for about a week because I couldn’t put the bloody thing down. It would be fair to say I became obsessed with the role and the book. Now I am executive-producing it.”

Watson has previously made it clear she will only dedicate herself to films with a strong script, so we can only assume that The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, has a remarkable narrative, honest characters and is extremely addictive. Particularly since she signed on nearly a year in advance.

As stated on her website, “In terms of the type of parts I am drawn to, I need to be interested in the role, and who I would be working with.”

Emma WatsonThat being said, we now know why David Hayman approached Emma Watson about the film and why she agreed. It takes a special someone to see the greatness of a book, or seven. David Heyman saw something so special with the Harry Potter series that he wanted to bring them to the big screen, and it didn’t disappoint.

In an interview with Yahoo.com Emma Watson nails the character quality of the protagonist Kelsea Glynn, and why The Queen on the Tearling by Erika Johansen, is not only the next big blockbuster, but it could be THE fiction debut of 2014.

“I play all sorts of different types of characters and no one is perfect. I would hate to play a sort of nauseatingly perfect person as well. You want to play someone that you feel is relatable and real and who makes mistakes and has fears and doubts, insecurities.”

This is a book for lovers of Game of Thrones and, because of its strong female lead, lovers of The Hunger Games too. While set in a time three centuries ahead of us, it has all the hallmarks of compelling historical fiction, and initially feels very much like it’s set in medieval times. Ruled by the cruel and vicious Red Queen, there are only two levels of society, and you can guess which one benefits from the medieval systems in place.

The book’s genre will be listed as fantasy, but it really should be in the women-are-really-kicking-butt-at-the-moment category, which keeps getting bigger. Just look at Emma Watson!

——————-

Hayley Shephard is contributor to The Booktopia Blog and loves reading about history, fantasy and hot men (with big big muscles).

Australia’s Hannah Kent and Evie Wyld join Donna Tartt, Eleanor Catton and more in 2014 Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist

FictionThe longlist for the 2014 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction is here, a list of incredible books by some extraordinary talents. This year’s longlist is perhaps the finest the Women’s Prize has put forward in its history. I really can’t recommend each book highly enough.

Australia’s Hannah Kent and Evie Wyld have thrust themselves into a stellar field with literary heavyweights Donna Tartt, Margaret Atwood and Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton. Former winners Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Suzanne Berne also feature alongside Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things and Man Booker shortlisted The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Announcing the 20 novels, chair of judges Helen Fraser said the judging panel was “really proud of the list”.

She said: “There was a real feeling there was immense talent and depth in the list. I think there is a lovely mixture of new authors and those at the top of their form.”

Australia’s Hannah Kent

Fraser, who read an amazing 158 novels in her role as chair of the judging panel, said the number of debut novels was not the only significant thing about the list. “We have got six debuts, and seven second novels. As a former editor, I know how difficult the second novel can be, so it’s nice to know seven writers have cracked it.”

Fraser said: “There are always more books that you like and want to squeeze in.”

The judging panel, which also includes Mary Beard, Denise Mina, Caitlin Moran and Sophie Raworth, is due to meet on March 25th to decide on the shortlist of six novels, which will be announced on April 7th.

The winner will be announced on June 4th.

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Stephen King to release Detective Novel – new book called Mr Mercedes

MrMERCEDES_hbk-animatedA retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies race against time to stop a psycho-loner intent on blowing up thousands… Stephen King is on a roll, this time with the heart-pounding suspense that he does best.

A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring a retired homicide detective who’s haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular – the pre-dawn slaughter of eight people among hundreds gathered in line for the opening of a jobs fair when the economy was guttering out. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes.

The plot is kicked into gear when Bill Hodges receives a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he’s preparing to kill again. Only Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, can apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time.

Because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands…

For more about Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes click here

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