NEWS: Bryce Courtenay’s The Silver Moon announcement

the silver moonThe Silver Moon:
Reflections on Life, Death and Writing

by Bryce Courtenay

Each of us has a place to return to in our minds, a place of clarity and peace, a place to think, to create, to dream. For Bryce Courtenay it was a waterhole in Africa he used to escape to as a boy for solitude. One evening, while hiding there, he witnessed the tallest of the great beasts drinking from the waterhole in the moonlight, and was spellbound. Ever since, he drew inspiration from this moment.

The Silver Moon gathers together some of the most personal and sustaining life-lessons from Australia’s favourite storyteller. In short stories and insights, many written in his final months, Bryce reflects on living and dying, and how through determination, respect for others and taking pleasure in small moments of joy, he tried to make the most out of life.

From practical advice on how to write a bestseller to general inspiration on how to realise your dreams, The Silver Moon celebrates Bryce Courtenay’s lifelong passion for storytelling, language and the creative process, and brings us closer to the man behind the bestsellers.

Click here for more information or to buy

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About the Author

Bryce Courtenay was born in South Africa and has lived in Sydney for the major part of his life. He is the bestselling author of The Power of One, April Fool’s Day, The Potato Factory, Tommo & Hawk, Jessica, Solomon’s Song, Smoky Joe’s Cafe, Four Fires, Whitethorn and Brother Fish.

Australian Romance Author Showcase with…Fiona Palmer

As part of Australian Romance Month, Romance Specialist Haylee Nash will be interviewing one Australian Romance author per day. Much like a beauty pageant, each author will be using their charm, wit and grace (and the power of social media) to take home the Booktopia Romance Bestseller crown. Booktopia invites bestselling author of rural romance Fiona Palmer to the stage.

1. Describe the perfect date.
Oh this may sound really boring but for me any date is perfect without the following three things: kids, cleaning, cooking. Continue reading

Writing Copy Before Bestsellers – Six Famous Authors And The Advertising Campaigns They Created

Mark Twain once said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

And before they became world famous novelists, these authors knew just the right kind…

Continue reading

Australia’s Favourite Novelist: The Countdown Continues

What a journey it’s been. From the hundreds of nominations, to the tens of thousands of votes, and here we are at the last day of the countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist.

For those who are coming to the party a little late, here’s the story so far:

 

So sit back and enjoy as the countdown towards Australia’s Favourite Novelist continues….


10. Rachael Johns

An English teacher by trade, a supermarket owner by day, a mum 24/7, and a writer by night. That’s some of the ingredients that make up one of the most successful Romance Writers in Australia, Rachael Johns. Rachael’s army of followers spread the good word relentlessly to take her into the top 10 of Australia’s Favourite Novelist.

In a relatively short space of time, Rachael has shown herself a force to be reckoned with, helping to bolster a new movement in Australian Romance writing. At 17 she began writing, enlightened by the thought that she could create whatever ending she liked, and almost a decade later, after many, many attempts at writing different types of novels, she joined the Romance Writers of Australia association.

Our Pick

It was there that Rachael learnt there was more to writing a book than just typing out random thoughts. She learnt about the craft, conflict, consistent characters, etc, and also discovered that she loved contemporary romance.

She lives in rural Western Australia with her husband and their three children.

Congratulations Rachael on coming 10th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Rachael Johns’ author page


9. Craig Silvey

From the moment Craig Silvey’s first book Rhubarb hit the shelves in 2004, it became clear Australia had unearthed another incredibly exciting talent. In 2005 Silvey was named as one of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists. Rhubarb was selected as the inaugural book for the ‘One Book’ series of events at the 2005 Perth International Arts Festival, and was included in the Australian national ‘Books Alive’ campaign.

And then came Jasper.

Jasper Jones has become one of Australia’s Favourite Novels. Recently voted 6th in the Tuesday Book Club’s list of Aussie Books to Read Before You Die, it opened the whole world to Silvey and his wonderful writing and thoughts on Australian society, both past and present.

Our Pick

Silvey says of his literary influences that “I’ve always been attracted to Southern Gothic fiction. There’s something very warm and generous about those regional American writers like Twain and Lee and Capote, and it seemed to be a literary ilk that would lend itself well to the Australian condition.”

Congratulations Craig on coming 9th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Craig Silvey’s author page


8. Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother’s small, German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell.

“We have these images of the straight-marching lines of boys and the ‘Heil Hitlers’ and this idea that everyone in Germany was in it together. But there still were rebellious children and people who didn’t follow the rules and people who hid Jews and other people in their houses. So there’s another side to Nazi Germany,” said Zusak in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

Our Pick

At just 37, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists. Upon the publication of The Book Thief he was dubbed a ‘literary phenomenon’ by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is also the award-winning author of four previous books for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger, recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney.

Congratulations Markus on coming 8th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Markus Zusak’s author page


7. Bryce Courtenay

From the unlikeliest of beginnings, Bryce Courtenay’s sweeping epics found a place in the hearts of Australians everywhere.

Courtenay began writing novels at a relatively late stage in his life after over three decades in the advertising industry.

His first and arguably most well known book, The Power Of One, was first published in 1989 and was adapted soon after into an award-winning film.

His consistency of style and warmth of voice has kept readers enthralled since those early days, and he established himself as one of Australia’s most popular novelists.

Our Pick

It was with immense sadness that word came through earlier this year of his passing. He was a truly wonderful man and there is no better way to honour him than to remember the legacy he left on his beloved adopted homeland.

Congratulations Bryce on coming 7th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013. You will be missed.

Click here to go to Bryce Courtenay’s author page


6. Isobelle Carmody

Isobelle Carmody is Australia’s most highly acclaimed author of fantasy titles for older readers.

She began her first book, Obernewtyn, when she was fourteen and since then she has written some of our greatest works of fantasy. She is perhaps best known for her Obernewtyn Chronicles and for her novel The Gathering (joint winner of the 1993 Children’s Literature Peace Prize and the 1994 CBC Book of the Year Award).

Our Pick

Another of her novels, Greylands, was joint winner of the 1997 Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction – Young Adult Division, and was named a White Raven at the 1998 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. She has also written many short stories for both children and adults.

Isobelle divides her time between Prague in the Czech Republic and her home on the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Congratulations Isobelle on coming 6th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Isobelle Carmody’s author page


5. Ruth Park

Another in a long line of writers born elsewhere yet able to capture Australian life so beautifully, Ruth Park’s writing has had a lasting effect on both adults and children for over 60 years.

Born in Auckland to a Scottish father and a Swedish mother, Park moved to Australia in 1942 where she had lined up a job with another newspaper.

Her first novel was The Harp in the South, a graphic story of Irish slum life in Sydney, which has been translated into 37 languages. Even though it was acclaimed by literary critics, the book proved controversial with sections of the public due to its candour. It remains her most popular novel and has never been out of print.

Our Pick

Between 1946 and 2004, she received numerous awards for her contributions to literature in both Australia and internationally including the Miles Franklin Award for Swords and Crowns and Rings in 1977. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987.

Congratulations Ruth on coming 5th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Ruth Park’s author page


4. John Marsden

A trained educator with a natural gift for storytelling, John Marsden is arguably Australia’s foremost writer of Young Adult fiction.

Whilst working at the prestigious Geelong Grammar School, Marsden made the decision to write for teenagers, following his dissatisfaction with his students’ apathy towards reading and the observation that teenagers simply weren’t reading any more. Marsden then wrote So Much To Tell You in only three weeks, and the book was published in 1987. The book sold record numbers and won numerous awards including “Book of the Year” as awarded by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

In 1993 Marsden published Tomorrow, When the War Began the first book in the Tomorrow Series and his most acclaimed and best-selling work to date. Recently it was selected in the American Library Association list of 100 Best Books for Teens since 1966.

Our Pick

Marsden has won every major writing award in Australia for young people’s fiction, including what Marsden describes as one of the highlights of his career, the 2006 Lloyd O’Neil Award for contributions to Australian publishing. This award means that Marsden is one of only five authors to be honoured for lifelong services to the Australian book industry. John Marsden was also nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2008, the world’s largest children’s and youth literature award, and the second largest literature prize in the world.

Congratulations John on coming 4th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to John Marsden’s author page


3. Monica McInerney

One of the stars of Australian fiction, Monica McInerney is the author of the internationally bestselling novels, A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out, Spin the Bottle, The Alphabet Sisters, Family Baggage, Those Faraday Girls and At Home with the Templetons. Those Faraday Girls was the winner of the General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards.

Her collection of short fiction, All Together Now, was shortlisted for the same award in 2009. At Home with the Templetons was shortlisted in the Popular Fiction category of the 2010 Irish Book Awards and in the Romantic Elements category of the 2011 Australian Romantic Book of the Year Awards.

Our Pick

In 2006 she was the ambassador for the Australian Government initiative Books Alive, with her novella Odd One Out.

Monica grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley of South Australia and has been living between Australia and Ireland for twenty years. She and her Irish husband currently live in Dublin.

Congratulations Monica on coming 3rd in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Monica McInerney’s author page


2. Tim Winton

One of the novelists of his generation, Tim Winton’s literary reputation was established early when his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the 1981 Australian Vogel Award; his second novel Shallows, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1984; and his third book, Scission, a collection of short stories, won the West Australian Council Literary Award in 1985.

Winton’s fifth novel, Cloudstreet, the story of two working-class families rebuilding their lives, was a huge literary and commercial success. It has been a best seller since its publication in 1991 and was recently voted the most popular Australian novel by the Australian Society of Authors. Awards include National Book Council Banjo Award for Fiction, 1991; West Australian Fiction Award 1991; Deo Gloria Award (UK), 1991 and the 1992 Miles Franklin Award.

Our Pick

In 2001 his novel, Dirt Music, was published to considerable critical acclaim and impressive reviews. The book was shortlisted for the 2002 Mann Booker Prize and won the 2002 Miles Franklin Award, the West Australian Fiction Award and the Christina Stead Award for Fiction. Film rights have been optioned to Phil Noyce’s film company, Rumbalara Films, and Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz are signed to star in the film.

Winton’s last novel, Breath, was awarded the 2009 Miles Franklin Prize for Literature.

Congratulations Tim on coming 2nd in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Tim Winton’s author page


Early Favourite Tim Winton finds himself at number 2 in the voting!

Quite the upset, but who pipped him at the post? Come back at 2pm to see who was voted Australia’s Favourite Novelist.

While you wait, Booktopia has a huge weekend for you. Not only do we have one of our famous Flash Sales, with books discounted by up to 90%, but we also have free shipping on all orders placed before midnight on Monday night.

All you need to do is use the free shipping code HOLIDAY at the checkout to get free shipping on as many books, as many orders as you like. It’s that easy.

We’ll see you back at 2pm to unveil the people’s champion, Australia’s Favourite Novelist.

10 Australian books to read before you die – First Tuesday Book Club

banner_10_aussie_booksThe First Tuesday Bookclub on the ABC recently held a popular vote for the 10 Australian books to read before you die. We watched with bated breath as the list was released, and thought we’d share it with you it case you missed it.

While there will be as much talk about the books not on the list as on it, it really is a great place to start with Australia novels. If there’s anything on this list you haven’t read, we strongly recommend checking them out.

Here we go…


cloudstreet

1. Cloudstreet

By Tim Winton

From separate catastrophes two rural families flee to the city and find themselves sharing a great, breathing, shuddering joint called Cloudstreet, where they begin their lives again from scratch. For twenty years they roister and rankle, laugh and curse until the roof over their heads becomes a home for their hearts. Tim Winton’s funny, sprawling saga is an epic novel of love and acceptance. Winner of the Miles Franklin and NBC awards in Australia, Cloudstreet is a celebration of people, places and rhythms which has fuelled imaginations world-wide.

About The Author
Tim Winton grew up on the coast of Western Australia, where he continues to live. He is the author of eighteen books. His epic novel Cloudstreet was adapted for the theater and has been performed around the world. His two most recent novels, Dirt Music and The Riders, were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He has won the prestigious Miles Franklin Award three times, and in 1998 the Australian National Trust declared Winton a national living treasure. The Turning has already won the 2005 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

(Editors note: Cloudstreet also topped the Booktopia 50 Must Read Australian Novels vote some time back. See the full results by clicking here)


2. The Book Thiefthe-book-thief

by Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger and her younger brother are being taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich. Liesel’s father was taken away on the breath of a single, unfamiliar word – Kommunist – and Liesel sees the fear of a similar fate in her mother’s eyes. On the journey, Death visits the young boy, and notices Liesel. It will be the first of many near encounters. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

The Book Thief is a story about the power of words to make worlds. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

About the Author
Markus Zusak lives in Sydney with his wife. He has written four novels for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, When Dogs Cry and The Messenger. The Boof Thief is his first adult novel.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


3. A Fortunate Lifea-fortunate-life

by A.B. Facey

A Fortunate Life is an autobiographical novel written by Albert Facey and was written in 1981 (nine months before his death) and tells the complete story of his life. It chronicles his early life in Western Australia, his experiences as a private during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I and his return to civilian life after the war. It also documents his extraordinary life of hardship, loss, friendship and love. During the initial days of its publication, Albert Facey became a nationwide celebrity.

The autobiography begins at his birth. He was born in Maidstone, Victoria, Australia. His father died on the Goldfields of Western Australia in 1896 of typhoid fever and Albert’s mother left her children to the care of their grandmother shortly afterwards. In 1899 he moved from Victoria to Western Australia with his grandmother and three of his six older siblings. Most of his childhood was spent in the Wickepin area.

He started working on farms at the age of eight and had little education and therefore could not read or write. As a child he taught himself to read and write. By the age of 14 he was an experienced bushman, and at 18 a professional boxer. He was badly injured at Gallipoli in August 1915 during the First World War, in which two of his brothers were killed. While recuperating he met his future wife Evelyn Gibson and they were married in Bunbury in August 1916. The Faceys lived in East Perth before returning to Wickepin six years later with their children, where they lived until 1934. The couple had seven children – the eldest, Barney, was killed during the Second World War – and twenty-eight grandchildren.

About the Author
Despite his renowned life, Facey considered his life to be simple and “had no idea what all the fuss was about”. He received many letters and appeared on many talk shows. He notably became one of Australia’s most famous heroes. When asked on an interview, where the name of the book originated. He replied, “I called it ‘A Fortunate Life’ because I truly believe that is what I had”.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


4. The Power of Onethe-power-of-one

by Bryce Courtenay

First with your head and then with your heart . . .So says Hoppie Groenwald, boxing champion, to a seven-year-old boy who dreams of being the welterweight champion of the world. For the young Peekay, it is a piece of advice that he will carry with him throughout his life.Born in a South Africa divided by racism and hatred, this one small boy will come to lead all the tribes of Africa. Through enduring friendships with Hymie and Gideon, Peekay gains the strength he needs to win out. And in a final conflict with his childhood enemy, the Judge, Peekay will fight to the death for justice.Bryce Courtenay’s classic bestseller is a story of the triumph of the human spirit – a spellbinding tale for all ages.

About the Author
Formally an advertising executive, Bryce Courtenay was one of Australia’s best loved writers. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1995 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra in October 2012. In September 2012, Courtenay announced that he was suffering from terminal gastric cancer. He died on 22 November at his Canberra home.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Harp In The South

5. The Harp in the South

by Ruth Park

Ruth Park’s classic novel The Harp in the South is one of Australia’s greatest novels. Hugh and Margaret Darcy are raising their family in Sydney amid the brothels, grog shops and run-down boarding houses of Surry Hills, where money is scarce and life is not easy.

Filled with beautifully drawn characters that will make you laugh as much as cry, this Australian classic will take you straight back to the colourful slums of Sydney with convincing depth, careful detail and great heart.

About the Author
Born in New Zealand, Ruth Park came to Australia in 1942 to continue her career as a journalist. She married the writer D’Arcy Niland and travelled with him through the north-west of New South Wales before settling in Sydney where she became a full-time writer.

Ruth Park wrote over fifty books, and her many awards include the prestigious Miles Franklin Award for Swords and Crowns and Rings; the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (USA) for Playing Beatie Bow and The Age Book of the Year Award for A Fence Around the Cuckoo.

She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987 and in 1994 was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letter from the University of New South Wales. She passed away at her home in Sydney in 2010, at the age of 93.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


jasper-jones

6. Jasper Jones

by Craig Silvey

Late on a hot summer night at the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by a knock on his window. His visitor is Jasper Jones.

Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him to his secret glade in the bush, and it is here that Charlie bears witness to a horrible discovery.

In this simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth. By turns heartbreaking, hilarious, tender and wise, Jasper Jones is a novel to treasure.

About the Author
Craig Silvey grew up on an orchard in Dwellingup Western Australia. He now lives in Fremantle, where at the age of 19, he wrote his first novel, Rhubarb, which received the Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist Award. In 2007, Silvey released a picture book called The World According to Warren. Outside of literature, Silvey is the singer/songwriter for the band The Nancy Sikes.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


the-magic-pudding-the-adventures-of-bunyip-bluegum

7. The Magic Pudding

by Norman Lindsay

Albert, the magic pudding, can be eaten again and again and will always reform into a new pudding, ready to be eaten again. His three companions must protect him from the pudding thieves who want to steal him for themselves.

First published in 1918, The Magic Pudding is said to have been written to settle an argument: a friend of Lindsay’s said that children like to read about fairies, while Lindsay asserted that they would rather read about food and fighting


About the Author

Norman Lindsay was an Australian artist, sculptor, writer, editorial cartoonist, and scale modeler. He was born in Creswick, Victoria in 1879. He is widely regarded as one of Australia′s greatest artists, producing a vast body of work in different media. He remains most famous for The Magic Pudding, but also published numerous other books for adults.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


the-slap

8. The Slap

by Christos Tsiolkas

To smack or not to smack is the question that reverberates through the interconnected lives dissected in Christos Tsiolkas’ award-winning novel, now in paperback.

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

It is a single act, but the slap reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it. Told through the eyes of eight of those present at the barbecue, this acclaimed bestseller is an unflinching interrogation of the life of the modern family. Poignant and provocative, THE SLAP makes us question the nature of commitment and happiness, compromise and truth. Whose side are you on?

About the Author
Christos Tsiolkas is the author of four novels: Loaded, which was made into the feature film Head-On, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe, which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award. He won Overall Best Book the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2009, was shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award and won the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal for his latest novel, The Slap. He is also a playwright, essayist and screen writer. He lives in Melbourne.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


the-secret-river

9. The Secret River

by Kate Grenville

In 1806 William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand.

But the colony can turn a convict into a free man. Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim a hundred acres for himself.

Aboriginal people already live on that river. And other recent arrivals—Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs Herring—are finding their own ways to respond to them.

Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life.

Inspired by research into her own family history, Kate Grenville vividly creates the reality of settler life, its longings, dangers and dilemmas. The Secret River is a brilliantly written book, a ground-breaking story about identity, belonging and ownership.

About the Author
Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s best-known authors. She has published nine novels, a collection of short stories, and four books about the writing process. Her books have been awarded many prizes in Australia, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Britain’s Orange Prize. In 2006 The Secret River was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


picnic-at-hanging-rock

10. Picnic At Hanging Rock

by Joan Lindsay

While Joan Lindsay’s haunting Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock is a work of fiction, the story is often considered one of Australia’s greatest mysteries.

In 1900, a class of young women from an exclusive private school go on an excursion to the isolated Hanging Rock, deep in the Australian bush. The excursion ends in tragedy when three girls and a teacher mysteriously vanish after climbing the rock. Only one girl returns, with no memory of what has become of the others.

About the Author
Joan Lindsay was born in Melbourne, where she went to school as a day-girl for a few years at Clyde Girls’ Grammar, then situated in East St Kilda. She knew and loved the Macedon district from early childhood. In 1922 she married Sir Daryl Lindsay in London. The Lindsays travelled together in Europe and the USA, Daryl with his paints and Joan with her typewriter. Picnic At Hanging Rock (1967) is her best-remembered book and was filmed by Peter Weir in 1975. Sir Daryl died in 1976. Joan lived at their country home on the Mornington Peninsula, Mullberry Hill, Victoria, Australia, until her death in December 1984.

Click here to buy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Of course, between you and me, we know they got it completely wrong. What would you have chosen?

Have your say on our twitter page @booktopia, our facebook page, or just leave a comment below.

Bryce Courtenay’s new – and final – novel, Jack of Diamonds

The new – and final – novel, Jack of Diamonds, by Australia’s favourite storyteller, Bryce Courtenay, is now available.

Celebrating the golden age of jazz, Jack of Diamonds is a true Bryce Courtenay classic spanning three continents and starring the irrepressible, quick-witted and big-hearted Jack Spayd.

Inspired by Bryce’s love of jazz and his own experiences working in the mines in Africa, Jack of Diamonds is a brilliantly entertaining story of chance, music, corruption and love.


Jack of Diamonds : Born into the slums of Toronto at the end of the roaring twenties, Jack Spayd grows up with a set of rules for home, school and the street where the strong rule the weak. But guided by a teacher who believes in him, a mother who protects him from his father’s drunken rages, and a friend, Mac, who introduces him to jazz, Jack discovers a life beyond Cabbagetown.

‘I’d discovered what was to become my first true obsession. I was completely obsessed, bowled over, struck by jazz lightning, whatever you want to name it.’

Turning his back on a promising classical career, Jack pursues his dream of becoming a professional jazz pianist, and rides the rails out West until he lands a job scuffing – playing everything from Rachmaninoff to ragtime. But in the dark gambling dens and honky-tonk bars of the devil’s playground that is Moose Jaw, Saskatchen, Jack receives more than a musical baptism of fire and makes a name for himself as a seriously smart poker player.

Soon the bright lights of Las Vegas beckon with the promise of legal gambling and a chance for Jack to see if he is good enough to make it as a jazz piano player in America. Caught up in the world of elite poker Jack falls under the spell of his boss, the enigmatic Bridgett Fuller, who has connections to the brutal Chicago Mob running Las Vegas. When someone gets badly hurt, Jack Spayd, also known as Jack McCrae, or Jack Reed, ex-piano player, now jazz harmonica player and sometime medic, is forced to flee for his life.

Leaving behind the one woman he adores, Jack sets sail for Africa where he begins work at the Luswishi River Copper Mine deep in the Belgian Congo. Soon his life-saving adventures lead to even more intrigue when he is given a rare African Grey parrot with a valuable secret, and before long Jack is drawn into a gambling ring run by ex-SS Germans. Read an Extract    BUY

‘It’s been a privilege to write for you and to have you accept me as a storyteller in your lives.

Now, as my story draws to an end, may I say only, ‘Thank you. You have been simply wonderful.’

With love and admiration,

The 50 Must Read Australian Novels (20 to 11) (The Popular Vote 2010)

A quick glance at the full list of your (remember, you voted for it) 50 Must Read Australian Novels will reveal which publisher is leading the way when it comes to keeping affordable editions of the Australian Classics in print. The Orange Revolution. This list shows that not only are these wonderful books remembered, but they are being read, talked about and shared amongst friends. So publishers, listen up – give us more great Australian content – and when you’re done, don’t forget to tell us you’ve done it, and we’ll read it. Promise. (Just don’t publish the books in poo brown, again, or choose dusty old brownish paintings for the covers, or let someone who can’t read design the covers, or publish them in fake red leather and gold lettering on the spine or… etc.)

I step down off my box and reveal the next ten – 20 to 11 of your 50 Must Read Australian Novels. (Full List of 50 Must Read Australian Novels now available – click here)


eucalyptus

20. Eucalyptus

Murray Bail

On a country property a man named Holland lives with his daughter Ellen. Over the years, as she grows into a beautiful young woman, he plants hundreds of different gum trees on his land.

When Ellen is nineteen her father announces his decision: she will marry the man who can name all his species of eucalypt, down to the last tree.Suitors emerge from all corners, including the formidable, straight-backed Mr Cave, world expert on the varieties of eucalypt.

And then, walking among her father’s trees, Ellen chances on a strange young man who in the days that follow tells her dozens of stories set in cities, deserts, faraway countries…

Awarded the Miles Franklin and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Eucalyptus is Murray Bail’s best and most moving novel. It is both a modern fairy tale and an unpredictable love story played out against the spearing light and broken shadows of country Australia.

Haunting and mesmeric, Eucalyptus illuminates the nature of story-telling itself. Continue reading

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