BREAKING NEWS: Svetlana Alexievich wins the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature

Belarusian investigative journalist and prose writer Svetlana Alexievich has won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature!

0,,16549620_303,00Alexievich is one of the world’s most acclaimed investigative journalists, also writing narratives from interviews with witnesses to the most dramatic events in the country, such as World War II, Soviet-Afghan war, fall of the Soviet Union, and Chernobyl disaster, of which her most recognised book Voices from Chernobyl was born.

Alexievich was a heavy favourite with pundits this year and has been tipped to win the award for much of the last decade. She beat out writers of the ilk of Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth and Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

Alexievich’s books have been published in many countries including US, Germany, UK, Japan, Sweden, France, China, Vietnam, Bulgaria, and India with a total of 19 countries in all. She has to her name 21 scripts for documentary films and three plays, which were staged in France, Germany, and Bulgaria.

For books from Svetlana Alexievich click here

Michael Robotham beats Stephen King and J.K. Rowling to win Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of the year

FB_IMG_1443558403338Australia crime writing superstar Michael Robotham has won the prestigious British Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for the best crime novel of the year.

A longtime Booktopia favourite, Michael beat the likes of Stephen King, Belinda Bauer and J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith).


“For all the fact that it’s lovely to have commercial success, to sell lots of books, to be able to be a full-time writer, something like the Dagger makes you feel you have the respect of your peers and you are part of a long tradition of very fine writers.”


Michael Robotham

In a 2014 review of Life or Death, we remarked ‘What sets Michael Robotham apart? A simple, but often neglected factor. He’s just a wonderful writer.’

It’s always nice to see the world agree.

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

Life or Death

Review by Andrew Cattanach

There seems to be two types of people in this world. Those who love Michael Robotham, and those who haven’t heard of him yet.

life-or-deathIt can be difficult for a crime writer to receive critical acclaim and popularity. Books by design are denser than any cop drama on TV, asking questions designed for reflection rather than ratings. Formulas are examined and broken down, cliches noted, thin characters ridiculed.

What sets Michael Robotham apart? A simple, but often neglected factor.

He’s just a wonderful writer.

Life or Death starts with an intriguing premise. Audie Palmer is on the run, having escaped from jail. 10 years of beatings and torture are behind him. But what’s the twist?

He has escaped just one day before he was due to be released.

In Audie Palmer, Robotham has created a character we can all root for. Lucky in his unluckiness, stoic, brave, principled. He is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by a crime he swears he didn’t commit. But can we trust him? Can we really trust anyone?

While Audie is the heart of the story,  there is plenty of meat around him, an ensemble cast of crooked politicians, kind-hearted criminals and shady FBI agents, not to mention a missing seven million dollars. The waters are murky, and Robotham revels in it.

Life or Death is for the crime fan who likes a story, not just an account. Brilliantly written, intelligent, funny, sad and meticulously mapped out, it’s easy to understand why there has already been so much interest in a big screen adaptation of the novel.

There is nothing more exciting than an author operating at the peak of their powers. With Life or Death, Robotham is doing just that, further strengthening his hold as one of Australia’s finest crime writers. Find out why Audie is on the run, before it’s too late.

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

BREAKING NEWS: Big Surprises In 2015 Man Booker Prize Shortlist

This year’s race for the Man Booker Prize promises to be one of the most intriguing in recent memory, with six extraordinary novels being named in a shortlist that shunned big names and early favourites Marilynne Robinson, Andrew O’Hagan and former winner Anne Enright.

Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life remains the early favourite to take out the major prize, with Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, Tom McCarthy’s Satin IslandThe Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings and Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways rounding out the shortlist for the most prestigious book prize in the world.

Haven’t read them all? Be your own judge, and pick up all the books in the 2015 Man Booker Prize today!

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BREAKING NEWS: Longlist For The 2015 Man Booker Prize announced

Take a closer look at the 2015 Longlist, and be your own judge…

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Buy Emily Bitto’s award-winning The Strays in Paperback and receive the eBook free!

For a very limited time when you buy the paperback edition of The Strays, winner of the 2015 Stella Prize,  you will receive the full ebook edition, absolutely free!


The Strays

by Emily Bitto

In The Strays, Evan Trentham is the wild child of the Melbourne art world of the 1930s. He and his captivating wife, Helena, attempt to carve out their own small niche, to escape the stifling conservatism they see around them, by gathering together other like-minded artists.

They create a utopian circle within their family home, offering these young artists a place to live and work, and the mixed benefits of being associated with the infamous Evan. At the periphery of this circle is Lily Struthers, the best friend of Evan and Helena’s daughter Eva.

Lily is infatuated by the world she bears witness to, and longs to be part of this enthralling makeshift family. As Lily observes years later, looking back on events that she still carries painfully within her, the story of this groundbreaking circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

Grab a copy of Emily Bitto’s The Strays here

Caroline Baum’s Review

Inspired by the bohemian art world of 1930s Melbourne this is a marvellously accomplished and assured debut, announcing a major new talent. Rich in atmosphere and beautifully observed, it tells the story of only child Lily who makes friends with Eva at school and then becomes infatuated with her family, particularly larger-than-life painter Evan and his glamorous wife Helena.

Lily tells the story of her progressive enchantment with their home, their garden, their friends and their expanding creative circle of strays from a retrospective point of view, as an adult now faced with the prospect of reunion with Eva after a long separation: a gallery opening invitation brings back sharp and painful memories of intense relationships.

Poetic, richly visual and faultlessly judged in terms of pace, character and atmosphere, this is writing that has the rich patina of an enduring classic. A stylish and mature addition to the rites of passage, coming of age genre.

Grab a copy of Emily Bitto’s The Strays here


BREAKING NEWS: 2015 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlists Announced


The shortlists for this year’s NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced, featuring some of Australia’s most celebrated writers and young up and comers.

How many have you read?


* Ceridwen Dovey – Only the Animals golden-boys(More…)

* Elizabeth Harrower In Certain Circles (More…)

* Sonya Hartnett – Golden Boys (More…)

* Mark Henshaw – The Snow Kimono (More…)

* Joan London – The Golden Age (More…)

* Gerald Murnane – A Million Windows (More…)


* Michael Mohammed Ahmad – The Tribe (More…)9781922213211

* Maxine Beneba Clarke – Foreign Soil (More…)

* Emily Bitto – The Strays (More…)

* Luke Carman – An Elegant Young Man (More…)

* Omar Musa – Here Come the Dogs (More…)

* Ellen van Neerven – Heat and Light (More…)


* Alan Atkinson – The Europeans in Australia (More…)the-bush

* Philip Dwyer – Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power 1799 ‐ 1815 (More…)

* Helen Garner – This House of Grief (More…)

* Iain McCalman – The Reef: A Passionate History (More…)

* Biff Ward – In My Mother’s Hands (More…)

* Don Watson – The Bush (More…)


* Allan Baillie – The First Voyage (More…)9780143307679

* Trace Balla – Rivertime (More…)

* Tamsin Janu – Figgy in the World (More…)

* Glenda Millard, Stephen Michael King (Illustrator) – The Duck and the Darklings (More…)

* Catherine Norton – Crossing (More…)

* James O’Loghlin – The Adventures of Sir Roderick, the Not-Very Brave (More…)


* K.A. Barker – The Book of Days (More…)9781742614175

* Jackie French – The Road to Gundagai (More…)

* Darren Groth – Are You Seeing Me? (More…)

* Justine Larb alestier – Razorhurst (More…)

* Jaclyn Moriarty – The Cracks in the Kingdom (More…)

* Clare Strahan – Cracked (More…)


GUEST BLOG: Caroline Baum on judging the Stella Prize

CaroJudging a literary prize is the one thing that no algorithm, no matter how sophisticated, can do. It is an intensely human and subjective endeavour. Now that the winner of this year’s Stella prize has been announced, I can say with complete honesty that this was the hardest prize I have ever judged: partly because of the sheer volume of books that we five judges had to read, in a relatively tight time frame, and partly because the quality of the books made it such a difficult process.

I spent a lot of this summer reading so intensely that on some days, I simply never got dressed. I taped the three criteria to my bedside table -original, excellent and engaging- and repeated them to myself like a mantra whenever I was unsure.

Some books snuck up on me unexpectedly, including a couple I had missed when they came out. One or two had completely failed to appear on my radar, causing me genuine concern: how could it be that I had overlooked them, when my role at Booktopia gives me the opportunity to see everything that’s out there? Answer: I’m human. An algorithm could come up with a formula that suggests what I might like based on previous preferences, but it won’t necessarily spot the book I failed to notice.

Judging for the Stella introduced me to some voices I will now follow with acute and sustained interest: Sofie Laguna and Biff Ward, I await your next books keenly.

As the process and the summer wore on, emails trickled through in the heat, becoming more urgent as deadlines neared. Oh the relief of realising some of my most fervently held enthusiasms were shared!

I thought of what it takes to do this as a kind of fitness, requiring muscle tone like a long distance athletic challenge. You need reading stamina to stay the course as well as lots of uninterrupted time.

When it came to whittling the longlist down to the shortlist, I read all twelve books again to get to six. There was no way round it. The revelations on re-reading were astounding and sometimes conviction-shaking – which just goes to show how much you miss when you are binge-reading, swallowing a book down without digesting it properly.

Our deliberations, when we finally came together on a warm day in Melbourne, were respectful, polite, fair but intense. Navigating towards the shore of consensus, we avoided the rocks of heated argument, all equally keen to avoid boiling it down to the simple, bald maths of a vote.

Being the first cab off the rank in the sequence of the year’s literary prizes is interesting: when the lists appear for prizes like the Miles Franklin it is surprising to see where you overlap and where you don’t.

I think it’s great for the vigour of the culture if one book does not scoop all the prizes, but it was surprising to see that our winner this year was not even longlisted for The Miles Franklin, given that The Strays certainly ticks the box when it comes to the vexed criterion of depicting an aspect of Australian life.

If Joan London wins it for The Golden Age, that would mean a pair of prestigious wins by two fine women writers who use language with similar precision, delicacy and maturity, despite the fact that one is making her debut, and the other is arguably one of our finest midcareer novelists. Both books about outsiders with heightened sensibilities, and which bring a fresh perspective to complex aspects of our past.

Caroline Baum is Booktopia’s Editorial Director, for which she produces The Booktopia Buzz. She also writes for the Sydney Morning Herald, Qantas in flight magazine, Slow Magazine, SBS Feast and other publications about books, food, travel, the arts, and aspects of contemporary life.

230914carolinebaumbuzzheader616+x123Check out Caroline’s Books of the Month in The Booktopia Buzz


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