Miles Franklin winner Roger McDonald, author of The Following, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Roger McDonald

author of The Following, The Ballad of Desmond Kale and many more

Ten Terrifying Questions

————————

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born at Young, NSW, and raised in Bribbaree, Temora, and Bourke. Secondary school and university in Sydney.

Country towns inoculated me against the romanticism of village life, but I loved living outside of them in the country. Still do.

2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?

I wanted to be an pilot but became a writer so never really came to earth.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at 18 that you do not have now?

That I was, or deserved to be, immortal.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak,  for the poetry of fiction.

The Tree of Man, by Patrick White, for ordinary Australian experience allowable as a high subject.

William Shakespeare for the protean potential of words.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

It seemed like an impossibility, and still does, so that is why I keep doing it, because I never seem to quite reach where I want to be.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Following is about Marcus Friendly, who became Australia’s sixteenth prime minister, and his line of descent through to the present day, in the person of a politician who may or may not have been his son, Max Petersen.

(From The Publisher: Years ago, in a midnight encounter beside the railroad tracks, a young boy meets a stranger with a powerful secret, a gift of uncanny understanding and a talent for knots. From this encounter, Marcus Friendly’s ideas of himself take shape as he rises to become Australia’s sixteenth Prime Minister. The night he dies, a shadow, ‘thin as a scythe’, is there to collect him when he falls. Another young boy, Ross Devlin, witnesses the event.

Ross eventually finds himself on an outback station working for Kyle Morrison, son of Australia’s most famous poet, ‘The Bounder’. Kyle suddenly needs help to undo a knot of his own, and a young union organiser, Max Petersen, steps in to right an old injustice.

Now, after years in parliament, Max Petersen, the inheritor of the Marcus Friendly tradition in more ways than one, awaits a call from the PM for the ministry he craves. Around him, a crisis among friends and family is unfolding, and everyone is forced to confront the legacy they have inherited, their influence in a changing world and what follows on after them.)

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

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

A feeling for the mysteries of time as they intrude themselves into our everyday experience.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Usually the most recently read author I’ve liked  on my bedside table. Last year it was Gillian Mears, Foal’s Bread, an instant Australian classic. Next to her Cold Light, by Frank Moorhouse, and going back a few years (but re-read annually) The March, by E.L. Doctorow.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To get the work done.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Get the work done.

Roger, thank you for playing.

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

Winners of the 2011 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards Announced

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Arts Minister, Simon Crean, today announced the winners of the 2011 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

FICTION:

WINNER: Traitor – Stephen Daisley

In the battle-smoke and chaos of Gallipoli, a young New Zealand soldier helps a Turkish doctor fighting to save a boy’s life. Then a shell bursts nearby; the blast that should have killed them both consigns them instead to the same military hospital.
Mahmoud is a Sufi. A whirling dervish, he says, of the Mevlevi order. He tells David stories: of arriving in London with a pocketful of dried apricots; of Majnun, the man mad for love; and of the saint who flew to paradise on a lion skin. You are God, we are all gods, Mahmoud tells David; and a bond grows between them. A bond so strong that David will betray his country for his friend.

Stephen Daisley’s astonishing debut novel is a story of war and of love—how each changes everything, forever. Evoking horror and beauty and a profound sense of the possibility of transformation, Traitor is that rarest of things: a work of fiction that will transport the reader, heart and soul, into another realm.

Buy here

Biography

Stephen Daisley was born in New Zealand in 1955. He has served in the New Zealand Army and worked at a variety of jobs in New Zealand and Australia including on sheep and cattle stations, cutting bush and scrub, driving trucks, doing road works and bar work, and on oil and gas construction sites. Traitor is his first novel. He now lives in Perth.

Judges’ Comments

Stephen Daisley’s first novel, Traitor is brilliant, poignant and provoking. Its tactile, redolent evocation of the physical world of sheep-farming in New Zealand and of warfare at Gallipoli—while this recalls material in many Australian novels—is also and utterly distinctive. Myths and propaganda are quietly set aside. The moral imperatives to which rare (and in this case reticent) individuals can attend are strikingly set forth. Here is another arresting renovation of Continue reading

Kim Scott wins the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award for That Deadman Dance

Congratulations Kim Scott


WINNER: That Deadman’s Dance

Judges’ Formal Comments:

 ‘Kaya.

 Writing such a word, Bobby Wabalanginy couldn’t help but smile. Nobody had done writ that before, he thought. Nobody ever writ hello or yes that way!’

This is the beginning of Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, a powerful and innovative fiction that shifts our sense of what an historical novel can achieve. Its language is shaped by the encounter of Noongar and Australian English, producing new writing and speech.

Its central character occupies both indigenous and settler worlds, and yet is contained by neither. Its narration of the early contact of British colonisers, American whalers and the indigenous Noongar people on the south coast of Western Australia in the early nineteenth century is both historical and magical. We see and feel the hardship, tragedies and aspirations of the settlement, and at the same time we are transported into the mystical and spiritual life worlds of Wabalanginy and his people.

That Deadman’s Dance is alive in the spaces between these two worlds as they collide and collaborate. It tells the story of the rapid destruction of Noongar people and their traditions. At the same time, there is the enchanting possibility of the birth of a new world in the strange song, dance, ceremony and language that are produced by these encounters of very different peoples.

Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

The novel’s hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

But slowly – by design and by accident – things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are “accidents” and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby’s Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia… Order a copy now.

Read Kim’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


The two runners-up for the 2011 Miles Franklin Award are…


When Colts Ran by Roger McDonald

‘There was nothing more definite when it came to promise than the worn old earth.’

In this sweeping epic of friendship, toil, hope and failed promise, multi-award-winning author Roger McDonald follows the story of Kingsley Colts as he chases the ghost of himself through the decades, and in and out of the lives and affections of the citizens of ‘The Isabel’, a slice of Australia scattered with prospectors, artists, no-hopers and visionaries. Against this spacious backdrop of sheep stations, timeless landscapes and the Five Alls pub, men play out their fates, conduct their rivalries and hope for the best.

Major Dunc Buckler, ‘misplaced genius and authentic ratbag’, scours the country for machinery in a World War that will never find him. Wayne Hovell, slave to ‘moral duty’, carries the physical and emotional scars of Colts’s early rebellion, but also finds himself the keeper of his redemption. Normie Powell, son of a rugby-playing minister, finds his own mysticism as a naturalist, while warm-hearted stock dealer Alan Hooke longs for understanding in a house full of women. They are men shaped by the obligations and expectations of a previous generation, all striving to define themselves in their own language, on their own terms.

‘When Colts Ran’, written in Roger McDonald’s rich and piercingly observant style, in turns humorous and hard-bitten, charts the ebb and flow of human fortune, and our fraught desire to leave an indelible mark on society and those closest to us. It shows how loyalties shape us in the most unexpected ways. It is the story of how men ‘strike at beauty’ as they fall to the earth. Order a copy now.

Read Roger’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


Bereft by Chris Womersley

It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.

In the town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox — a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.

‘Bereft is a dark, brooding story of war, family secrets and a man’s search for justice.  Chris Womersley knows how to shine light into the darkest corners of rural Australia.’ – MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

‘Bereft is a beautiful novel . . . Womersley writes with such compelling power it is barely possible to put the book down.’ – DEBRA ADELAIDE Order a copy now.

Read Chris’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here

To all three brilliant authors…
Congratulations from Booktopia.


The three contenders for the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Chris Womersley, Kim Scott and Roger McDonald, answer Ten Terrifying Questions

Miles Franklin

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

the three contenders for the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award,

Chris Womersley,

Kim Scott

and Roger McDonald,

Ten Terrifying Questions

——————————–

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourselves – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Chris Womersley: I was born in Melbourne in 1968, and have lived in that city for most of my life, aside from periods travelling overseas and living in Sydney and the UK. I went to a few schools, but ended up at Melbourne High School where I did my HSC.

Kim Scott: Born in Perth, Western Australia, but moved to Albany when I was three or four years old and did all my schooling there. Albany is my home town.

My father’s family had lived a couple of hours drive east of Albany, at what’s now Ravensthorpe for the generations since its proclamation, and lived in the vicinity since human society was formed there. But Ravensthorpe has a bad rep with most Aboriginal people today because of a lot of killing that occurred there in the earliest years of its colonisation. I didn’t even know about it until I was a young adult. There’s much food for thought, contemplating one’s Aboriginal family raised in those circumstances, having reconciled themselves with their Continue reading

2011 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards: Shortlists Announced

Arts Minister Simon Crean today announced the shortlists for the 2011 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

Minister Crean said the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards recognise the outstanding literary talent in our country.

“This year is the fourth year of the Awards, and also marks the greatest number of entries received in the history of the Awards,” Mr Crean said.

“The five short-listed books in each category have been recommended by the judging panels from an impressive pool of 379 entries. This is an indicator of the strength of the Australian literary sector.

“I am pleased to see 13 different publishers represented on the shortlists. I am also delighted that a number of first-time novelists have impressed judges. The Awards not only reward excellent writing, they support new Australian talent,” Mr Crean said.

Of the 379 entries, 133 were non-fiction entries, 69 fiction titles, 60 young adult fiction and 117 children’s fiction stories.

“I urge publishers, booksellers and book reviewers to bring the shortlisted books and authors to as wide an audience as possible over the next few weeks,” Mr Crean said.

“I will be reading as many as possible in the count down to the final awards, and urge fellow book lovers to celebrate Australian literature by buying, borrowing or downloading their own copies.”

The judging panels comprised of Professor Peter Pierce (chair), Professor John Hay AC and Dr Lyn Gallacher (fiction); Mr Brian Johns AO (chair), Mr Colin Steele and Dr Faye Sutherland (non-fiction); and Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright (chair), Mr Mike Shuttleworth and Ms Mary-Ruth Mendel (children’s and young adult fiction).

The 2011 shortlisted publications and authors are:

Traitor – Stephen Daisley

In the battle-smoke and chaos of Gallipoli, a young New Zealand soldier helps a Turkish doctor fighting to save a boy’s life. Then a shell bursts nearby; the blast that should have killed them both consigns them instead to the same military hospital.

Mahmoud is a Sufi. A whirling dervish, he says, of the Mevlevi order. He tells David stories: of arriving in London with a pocketful of dried apricots; of Majnun, the man mad for love; and of the saint who flew to paradise on a lion skin. You are God, we are all gods, Mahmoud tells David; and a bond grows between them. A bond so strong that David will betray his country for his friend.

Stephen Daisley’s astonishing debut novel is a story of war and of love—how each changes everything, forever. Evoking horror and beauty and a profound sense of the possibility of transformation, Traitor is that rarest of things: a work of fiction that will transport the reader, heart and soul, into another realm.

Biography

Stephen Daisley was born in New Zealand in 1955. He has served in the New Zealand Army and worked at a variety of jobs in New Zealand and Australia including on sheep and cattle stations, cutting bush and scrub, driving trucks, doing road works and bar work, and on oil and gas construction sites. Traitor is his first novel. He now lives in Perth.

Judges’ Comments

Stephen Daisley’s first novel, Traitor is brilliant, poignant and provoking. Its tactile, redolent evocation of the physical world of sheep-farming in New Zealand and of warfare at Gallipoli—while this recalls material in many Australian novels—is also and utterly distinctive. Myths and propaganda are quietly set aside. The moral imperatives to which rare (and in this case reticent) individuals can attend are strikingly set forth. Here is another arresting renovation of what maleness—and decency in anyone—might be.

Click here to order your copy of Traitor

Notorious – Roberta Lowing

She came walking out of the desert, just as the famous poet had centuries before. Impossible for them both to have survived that relentless furnace, that destroyer of all life.

Now the nameless woman lies horribly scarred and close to death in an Asylum deep in the North African desert. An Australian official, a man code-named John Devlin, has come to question her, despite the protests of her carers. It is clear that the woman and Devlin share some kind of past, and all kinds of secrets – but the greatest secret is the one she will die to protect.

As the wind calls up a deadly sandstorm, the inhabitants of the Asylum discover they are linked by a diary written by the poet Rimbaud, who in 1890 also confronted the implacable power of the desert. Over the next one hundred and twenty years, everyone who sees the diary will want it. Most will do anything to possess it.

For some, like ruthless Polish aristocrat Aleksander Walenska, the diary holds secrets that will bring him riches and power. For his troubled and religious son Czeslaw, it is a book of death, a penance to be fulfilled by sacrifice. For Czeslaw’s sister, it is a book of the desert which, if returned to its rightful home, will redeem her family’s name. For Devlin, broken by his own ghosts, and with one final chance to make amends, the diary is worthless; the desert not a place of revelation, but the birthplace of modern terrorism.

Only the woman, whose dark past is entwined with those who would possess the diary at any cost, sees the true worth of the book.

Biography

Roberta Lowing was Fairfax Media/The Sun-Herald’s film and video critic for twenty-three years and covered the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals for ten years, interviewing directors and actors and writing travel stories. In the late 1990s, she produced and directed 80 episodes of the environmental show Green Seen, which she co-founded, for the community television station Channel 31. From 2006 until 2010, she ran the Poetry UnLimited Press Readings in Sydney. Roberta recently completed her Master of Letters at the University of Sydney. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Meanjin, Blue Dog and Overland. Roberta’s first collection of poetry, Ruin, was published in 2010 by Interactive Press. Fairfax Books has also published a collection of Roberta’s reviews from The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age.

Judges’ Comments

Roberta Lowing’s Notorious is a first novel and one notable for the breadth of its ambitions and the bravura with which these are realised. We move backwards and forwards in time and across continents in a series of linked searches and pursuits that are both haunting and horrifying. The poet Rimbaud and his adventures in the deserts of Morocco are Lowing’s starting point. From there we are led into places where revenge and the desire for expiation are shockingly entwined. Notorious is a sustained, assured and surprising début.

Click here to order your copy of Notorious

When Colts Ran – Roger McDonald

In this sweeping epic of friendship, toil, hope and failed promise, multi-award-winning author Roger McDonald follows the story of Kingsley Colts as he chases the ghost of himself through the decades, and in and out of the lives and affections of the citizens of ‘The Isabel’, a slice of Australia scattered with prospectors, artists, no-hopers and visionaries. Against this spacious backdrop of sheep stations, timeless landscapes and the Five Alls pub, men play out their fates, conduct their rivalries and hope for the best.

Major Dunc Buckler, ‘misplaced genius and authentic ratbag’, scours the country for machinery in a World War that will never find him. Wayne Hovell, slave to ‘moral duty’, carries the physical and emotional scars of Colts’s early rebellion, but also finds himself the keeper of his redemption. Normie Powell, son of a rugby-playing minister, finds his own mysticism as a naturalist, while warm-hearted stock dealer Alan Hooke longs for understanding in a house full of women. They are men shaped by the obligations and expectations of a previous generation, all striving to define themselves in their own language, on their own terms.

When Colts Ran, written in Roger McDonald’s rich and piercingly observant style, in turns humorous and hard-bitten, charts the ebb and flow of human fortune, and our fraught desire to leave an indelible mark on society and those closest to us. It shows how loyalties shape us in the most unexpected ways. It is the story of how men ‘strike at beauty’ as they fall to the earth.

Biography

Roger McDonald was born at Young, New South Wales, and educated at country schools and in Sydney. He began his working life as a teacher, ABC producer, and book editor, wrote poetry for several years, but in his thirties turned to fiction, expressing the feeling that for him, at least, poetry was “unable to express a full range of characters and moods, the larger panorama of Australian life that I felt was there to portray”. His first novel was 1915, a novel of Gallipoli, winner of the Age Book of the Year, and made into a highly successful eight-part ABC-TV mini-series. Slipstream, Rough Wallaby, Water Man and The Slap followed, each of these novels drawing intensively on imaginative, poetic takes on rural living. McDonald’s account of travelling the outback with a team of New Zealand shearers, Shearers’ Motel, won the National Book Council Banjo Award for non-fiction. His bestselling novel Mr Darwin’s Shooter, was awarded three Premiers’ literary awards, and the National Fiction Award at the 2000 Adelaide Writers’ Week. The Ballad of Desmond Kale won the 2006 Miles Franklin Award and South Australian Festival Prize for Fiction. A long story that became part of When Colts Ran was awarded the O. Henry Prize (USA) in 2008.

Judges’ Comments

In When Colts Ran, Roger McDonald has boldly re-invigorated one of the most popular forms of Australian fiction—the saga of pioneering, land-taking and nation-building. Familiar material of the saga—struggle on outback sheep stations, family feuds sustained across the generations, the experience of foreign war, the ravages of drought—is enlisted with a freshness and verve that indicates both McDonald’s inwardness with this literary tradition, and the originality with which he reshapes it. The novel is also a meditation on heroism, on the loneliness that gregariousness can mask, on a lostness of spirit that cannot be assuaged.

Click here to order your copy of When Colts Ran

Glissando – David Musgrave

When it comes to looking back over his life, Archie Fliess has got some understanding to do. So begins a sprawling reflection on his life during the early twentieth century, from the day the fortunes of brothers Archie and Reggie changed when they were taken to be the rightful owners of the property built by their grandfather in country NSW.

Along their journey they are introduced to an odd collection of family and caretakers, who don’t always have the best interests of the boys at heart. Archie becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding his grandfather’s life, and as the two stories—Archie’s and his grandfather’s—unravel, we see familiar themes of disappointment and failed ambition.

Biography

David Musgrave’s poetry and short stories have won or been shortlisted for several awards including the Newcastle, Somerset, Bruce Dawe, Broadway and Henry Lawson prizes. In 2005, he founded the publishing house Puncher & Wattmann, which publishes poetry and literary fiction. Glissando: A Melodrama (Sleepers, 2010) is his first novel.

Judges’ Comments

While David Musgrave’s artful and often hilarious first novel, Glissando, is subtitled ‘a melodrama’, and although much of its business is with the theatrical, the range is wider. This is a picaresque and parodic narrative that follows the misadventures and triumphs of its wandering group of characters. Australia’s literature and history are playfully enlisted—Patrick White’s Voss, the New Australia venture in Paraguay, explorers’ journals, touring theatre troupes. Musgrave’s satire is exuberant, inventive, incisive: it is the triumph in a novel of confident originality.

Click here to order your copy of Glissando

That Deadman Dance – Kim Scott

Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

The novel’s hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

But slowly – by design and by accident – things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are “accidents” and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby’s Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia…

Biography

Born in 1957, Kim Scott’s ancestral Noongar country is the south-east coast of Western Australia between Gairdner River and Cape Arid. His cultural Elders use the term Wirlomin to refer to their clan, and the Norman Tindale nomenclature identifies people of this area as Wudjari/Koreng. Kim’s professional background is in education and the arts. He is the author of two novels, True Country and Benang, poetry and numerous pieces of short fiction.

Judges’ Comments

Kim Scott’s latest novel, That Deadman Dance, vividly and compassionately imagines the early contact between the Noongar people of the south-west of Western Australia and European and American transients and settlers. Scott explores the complex human relations on what some historians have called ‘the friendly frontier’. Cultural collisions are seen sympathetically from both sides, and are described in a prose that has the capacity to make new and strange the events, people and landscapes that the novel memorably encompasses.

Click here to order your copy of That Deadman Dance

Non-fiction shortlist

Young adult fiction shortlist

Children’s fiction shortlist

The 2011 Miles Franklin Award Shortlist

The three novels shortlisted
for the 2011 Miles Franklin Award are…


When Colts Ran by Roger McDonald

‘There was nothing more definite when it came to promise than the worn old earth.’

In this sweeping epic of friendship, toil, hope and failed promise, multi-award-winning author Roger McDonald follows the story of Kingsley Colts as he chases the ghost of himself through the decades, and in and out of the lives and affections of the citizens of ‘The Isabel’, a slice of Australia scattered with prospectors, artists, no-hopers and visionaries. Against this spacious backdrop of sheep stations, timeless landscapes and the Five Alls pub, men play out their fates, conduct their rivalries and hope for the best.

Major Dunc Buckler, ‘misplaced genius and authentic ratbag’, scours the country for machinery in a World War that will never find him. Wayne Hovell, slave to ‘moral duty’, carries the physical and emotional scars of Colts’s early rebellion, but also finds himself the keeper of his redemption. Normie Powell, son of a rugby-playing minister, finds his own mysticism as a naturalist, while warm-hearted stock dealer Alan Hooke longs for understanding in a house full of women. They are men shaped by the obligations and expectations of a previous generation, all striving to define themselves in their own language, on their own terms.

‘When Colts Ran’, written in Roger McDonald’s rich and piercingly observant style, in turns humorous and hard-bitten, charts the ebb and flow of human fortune, and our fraught desire to leave an indelible mark on society and those closest to us. It shows how loyalties shape us in the most unexpected ways. It is the story of how men ‘strike at beauty’ as they fall to the earth. Order a copy now.

Read Roger’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


That Deadman’s Dance by Kim Scott

Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

The novel’s hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

But slowly – by design and by accident – things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are “accidents” and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby’s Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia… Order a copy now.

Read Kim’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


Bereft by Chris Womersley

It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.

In the town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox — a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.

‘Bereft is a dark, brooding story of war, family secrets and a man’s search for justice.  Chris Womersley knows how to shine light into the darkest corners of rural Australia.’ – MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

‘Bereft is a beautiful novel . . . Womersley writes with such compelling power it is barely possible to put the book down.’ – DEBRA ADELAIDE Order a copy now.

To the three shortlisted authors…
Congratulations from Booktopia.

The Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist 2011

Congratulations to all of the longlisted authors!

Update: Click here for The 2011 Miles Franklin Award Shortlist

The longlisted authors are:

Jon Bauer – Rocks in the Belly

How far can you push a child before he snaps?

Rocks in the Belly tells the story of an eight-year-old boy and the adult he becomes. When he is young his mother fosters boys, despite the jealous turmoil it arouses in her son: jealousy that reaches unmanageable proportions when she fosters Robert, a child she can’t help bonding with. As the connection between them grows, the son’s envy triggers an event that profoundly changes everyone. Especially Robert.

At twenty-eight, still haunted by his childhood, the son returns to face his mother, who is now chronically ill. He hasn’t forgiven her for what happened to Robert, and yet she isn’t the same domineering woman anymore. Now she’s the dependent one and he the dominant force — a power he can’t help but abuse.

Written in two startlingly original voices, Rocks in the Belly is about the effortless destruction we wreak on one another in the simple pursuit of our own happiness, and a reminder that we never leave our childhood behind. A fast-paced, powerful, yet often beautiful and funny novel.

Order your copy of Rocks in the Belly here

——————————

Honey Brown – The Good Daughter

Rebecca Toyer and Zach Kincaid each live on the outskirts of town, but come from very different sides of the tracks. When Zach’s wealthy mother goes missing, Rebecca – the truckie’s daughter – is implicated in her disappearance.

In the weeks that follow, Rebecca and Zach are drawn into a treacherous, adult world. Eager to please, Rebecca finds herself in danger of living up to the schoolyard taunts she so hates, while Zach channels his feelings through the sights of his gun.

In the fading summer light, grudges are nursed and tempers fray, and as old lies unravel it seems nobody can be relied on. But beyond the fallout, the hard lessons in love and betrayal have not been wasted. Rebecca and Zach realise that judgements can be flawed – and that trust is better earnt than given.

Original, unsettling and compelling, The Good Daughter is the much-anticipated second novel from Continue reading

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