Autumn Laing by Alex Miller (out in October – available to pre-order now)

A new Alex Miller novel is something to celebrate.

Autumn Laing will be available in October

Autumn Laing has long outlived the legendary circle of artists she cultivated in the 1930s. Now ‘old and skeleton gaunt’, she reflects on her tumultuous relationship with the abundantly talented Pat Donlon and the effect it had on her husband, on Pat’s wife and the body of work which launched Pat’s career. A brilliantly alive and insistently energetic story of love, loyalty and creativity.

Alex Miller on his inspiration for Autumn Laing:

I was sitting on a bench in Holland Park, watching a squirrel and daydreaming about being a boy in London’s park when the voice of Autumn Laing intruded, ‘They are all dead and I am old and skeleton-gaunt.’ It was a realisation and I knew at once this was the right voice for a new book I was hoping to write.

Originally based on my lifelong interest in the Australian artist Sidney Nolan, Autumn shouldered this idea aside and re-set my plans for me. I loved being with her and am deeply grateful she seduced me too. Her confident voice never once faltered during the writing of the book.

Pre-order your copy of Autumn Laing
from Booktopia, Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Alex Miler’s latest novel is a brilliantly alive, insistently energetic story of love, loyalty and creativity, and Autumn Laing herself one of his most unforgettable creations.

Written with compassion and intelligence, this energetic, funny and wise novel peels back the layers of storytelling and asks what truth has to do with it.

Autumn Laing seduces Pat Donlon with her pearly thighs and her lust for life and art. In doing so she not only compromises the trusting love she has with her husband, Arthur, she also steals the future from Pat’s young and beautiful wife, Edith, and their unborn child.

Fifty-three years later, cantankerous, engaging, unrestrainable 85-year-old Autumn is shocked to find within herself a powerful need for redemption. As she begins to tell her story, she writes, ‘They are all dead and I am old and skeleton-gaunt. This is where it began…’

Written with compassion and intelligence, this energetic, funny and wise novel peels back the layers of storytelling and asks what truth has to do with it. Autumn Laing is an unflinchingly intimate portrait of a woman and her time – she is unforgettable.

Last year Alex Miller answered our Ten Terrifying Questions – click here to read his answers

About the Author:  Alex Miller has twice won the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia’s premier literary prize; the first occasion in 1993 for The Ancestor Game, and again in 2003 for Journey to the Stone Country. Conditions of Faith, his fifth novel, was published in 2000 and won the Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the 2001 NSW Premiers Literary Awards. It was also nominated for the Dublin IMPAC International Literature Award, shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award in 2000, the Age Book of the Year Award and the Miles Franklin Award in 2001. He is also an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, for The Ancestor Game, in 1993. Miller’s eighth novel, Landscape of Farewell, was published in 2007 and shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2008. Lovesong was longlisted for the 2010 Miles Franklin Award.

Last year, Toni Whitmont, Editor in Chief of Booktopia BUZZ, and regular blogger, was lucky enough to meet Alex Miller.

Toni Whitmont review: 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Award winners announced – Alex Miller and Malcolm Fraser scoop the pool

The winners of the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Sydney Opera House last night. Some of the countries leading writers and luminaries were at the event, including ABC TV presenter Jennifer Byrne (as MC), NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and former Prime Minster of Australia, Malcolm Fraser.

One of Australia’s best-loved writers, Alex Miller, was awarded the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction for Lovesong, described by the judges as “a magnificent novel of desire”.

(No surprises there – we are Miller groupies here at Booktopia. Go here to see his answers to our Ten Terrifying Questions and here to see my interview with him on the publication of Lovesong).

Alex has received numerous awards for his writing, including twice winning the prestigious Miles Franklin Award. Miller also won The People’s Choice Award. Introduced three years ago to increase public engagement with the arts, the People’s Choice Award was chosen by Australian residents from the six novels shortlisted for the Christina Stead Prize.

Former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, along with Margaret Simons, were awarded the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction for Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs. It also took out Book of The Year. The judges described  it as an engaging work that demonstrates how literary craft can transcend the usual limitations of political autobiography.
The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, established in 1979, were Australia’s first premier’s awards. In their 32 year history, they have honoured many of the nation’s greatest writers, including Continue reading

13 rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro

When pre-publication copies of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society were passed around a couple of years ago, it was obvious that the book was going to be a hand-sell sensation. And so it proved to be with a great many editions of this lovely war-time confection going on to sell squillions.

13 rue Thérèse has the same feel. Coming for a February release, this book is being presented as a lovely hardback edition. Told as a series of letters and reminiscences, and peppered with illustrations, scraps of sheet music, fading photos, this is a ostensibly a love story, set in the first half of the twentieth century. Build as a story of  “passion, memory and the seductive power of the imagination”, it certainly fulfills the publisher’s spin – it is sophisticated, imaginative, sexy and escapist. A grown-up treat.

David Ebershoff, bestselling author of The 19th Wife, writes that “this is a puzzle-novel and gave me the same fizzy satsifaction as completing a Sunday crossword. It will light up your brain, and your heart”.

All true – 13 rue Thérèse is a most satisfying read. However, to me, these descriptions ignore two really important aspects and to a certain extent, undermine the power of this remarkable novel. Like Flaubert’s Madame Bovary more than a century earlier, and Alex Miller’s very fine LoveSong of last year, Shapiro writes with enormous insight about the confusion between a woman’s desire for a child and her desire for a man. At the same time, her descriptions of the horror of the trenches during World War 1, and the lifetime legacy for those who survived, put me in mind of the extremely powerful Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks as well as parts of Louis de Bernières Birds Without Wings and David Malouf’s The Great World. Indeed, 13 rue Thérèse is so much more than a cleverly constructed love story. Continue reading

Alex Miller interview

Alex Miller has been travelling the length and breadth of the country promoting Lovesong. Readers of the Buzz will know that I absolutely loved it, and from the look of our sales, so have our customers.

In the meantime, I was lucky enough to catch up with Alex Miller at Allen and Unwin’s offices last week. Here he is, speaking about what moves him, that wonderful novel, and where he gets his inspiration from.



Fast movers from November’s Booktopia Buzz

The November Booktopia Buzz is up on the site and I always like to have a look at it about 6 hours after we’ve sent it to our customers, just to see what is really moving.  After all, there is so much about bookselling that is speculative, trying to anticipate the fickle and diverse taste of readers. You can imagine then how I pour over the figures the day the newsletter goes out. Those first few hours gives me a really good  indication of what is going to be hot and what is not.

Of course, the best surprise is when I have to do a top up order even before the book is published. From time to time we actually have pre-sell all of our stock, and then have to scramble to supply customers who actually wait pub date to put in their orders.

So, any guesses for the top five for November from the latest Buzz?

Go to Booktopia Buzz and check it out. See how much you are in accord with the wider book buying public.

And the winners are….(or at least, these are the titles which I have had to re-order today)



9781741666694-pittwater 9780007241552songdaylight




And what about the one that I didn’t put in Booktopia Buzz but I should have?

Everyone is going crazy for John Ilhan: A Crazy Life.



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