Well, I still haven’t finished a book to write about, but I’ve been busy making plans and lists of books to read in the near future. November is going to be a busy reading month (at least in theory). Brona is once again hosting a month-long event focused on Australian literature. Last year, I barely managed to read one book, The Spare Room by Helen Garner. This year, I want to do a little better. Since I am on a strict, STRICT book-buying ban, I am picking from the books I already own (shocking, I know) and the library. Here’s what’s tempting me:
- Richard Flanagan, Gould’s Book of Fish
Acclaimed as a masterpiece around the world, this is at once a marvelously imagined epic of 19th-century Australia and a contemporary fable, a tale of horror, and a celebration of love.
- Alice Pung, Her Father’s Daughter (nonfiction)
Alice is constantly confronted by her father’s extraordinary fear for her safety—but why? As she digs into her father’s story, Alice embarks on a journey of painful discovery. Set in Melbourne, China, and Cambodia, this book captures a father–daughter relationship in an astonishingly powerful way.
- Nevil Shute, On the Beach
After a nuclear World War III has destroyed most of the globe, the few remaining survivors in southern Australia await the radioactive cloud that is heading their way, bringing certain death. Nevil Shute’s most powerful novel was a bestseller for decades after its 1957 publication. (It comes highly recommended by Nancy.)
- Tim Winton, Dirt Music
Set in the dramatic landscape of Western Australia, Dirt Music tells the story of a broken man who has made his life a “project of forgetting.” Not until he meets Georgie Jutland, the wife of White Point’s most prosperous fisherman, does he begin to dream again. Ambitious and perfectly calibrated, Dirt Music resonates with suspense, emotion, and timeless truths.
- Kate Grenville, The Secret River
When William Thornhill is caught steeling, he and his family are sent to New South Wales. There, they hear a rumor that “unclaimed land” offers an opportunity to start afresh. No one has told the Thornhills that aboriginal people are already living on the land they have taken. Soon William, a man neither better nor worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life.
The following books would be ILL requests, which I’ll only do if I know for sure that I’ll have time to read them:
- Murray Bail, Eucalyptus
A modern fairy tale, and an unforgettable love story, that bristles with spiky truths and unexpected wisdom about art, feminine beauty, landscape, and language. It affirms the seductive power of storytelling itself.
- Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda
Only the prodigious imagination of Peter Carey could implicate Oscar and Lucinda in a narrative of love and commerce, religion and colonialism, that culminates in a half-mad expedition to transport a glass church across the 19th-century Outback.
- Joan Lindsey, Picnic at Hanging Rock
A beguiling landmark of Australian literature, it stands with Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca as a masterpiece of haunting intrigue.
- Ceridwen Dovey, Only the Animals
In this short-story collection, the souls of 10 animals, caught up in human conflicts over the last century, tell their astonishing stories of life and death, having seen humans at their brutal, violent worst and their creative, imaginative best.
Have you read any of these books? Which one has caught your fancy?