Summer 2020

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The Italian Teacher

Conceived while his larger-than-life father, Bear Bavinsky, cavorted around Rome in the 1950s, the young Pinch learns that his father’s genius trumps everything else. After Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy—first as a painter, and then as his father’s biographer, before settling, disillusioned, into a job teaching Italian in London.

And when Bear dies, Pinch hatches a scheme to secure his father’s legacy.

What makes an artist? With his signature compassion and humour, Tom Rachman conjures a life lived in the shadow of greatness. The Italian Teacher is a masterly novel about a son striving to make his own mark on the world.

 

Audio excerpt for The Italian Teacher

 

Cat no: 4091
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The Sunken Road

At the height of the Great Depression, with farmers walking off the land and the city’s creeks lined with kerosene-tin shanties, a young mother is taken by a shark in the shallows at Henley Beach. Her grieving husband flees north with his baby son to the town of Pandowie, far from the treacherous ocean. In time, the boy will have a daughter: the wilful auburn-haired Anna Tolley.

Nominated on its original 1996 release for the Man Booker Prize, The Sunken Road is Garry Disher’s proudest achievement. This moving, powerful novel set in the wheat and wool country of mid-north South Australia is at once the story of a region, a town and a people—and of one of the most memorable characters in Australian fiction.

 

Audio excerpt for The Sunken Road

 

Cat no: 4092
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Lucky Ticket

Fortunes rise and fall. One day you have a lucky ticket and get a dinner so good and you eat so much that you think you’ll never need to eat again. You get busy making plans and then the hunger comes looking for you.I’m just an old man selling lucky tickets, but my theory is that we all get our turn in the end. I’ve had my turn at fortune. It was some years ago, maybe 2002, because I remember that was when Sài Gòn was less red and bright with fried chicken signs everywhere.

A highly original collection of stories by a talented young writer. In the comic-tragic eponymous story, ‘Lucky Ticket’, the narrator, a genial, disabled old man, whose spirit is far from crushed, sells lottery tickets on a street corner in bustling Saigon. In ‘Mekong Love’, two young people in a restrictive society try to find a way to consummate their relationship—in an extraordinary tropical landscape.

In ‘Abu Dhabi Gently’, a story of dreams and disappointment, of camaraderie and disillusionment, a migrant worker leaves Zanzibar to earn money in the UAE in order to be able to marry his fiancée. ‘White Washed’ depicts a strained friendship between two students in Melbourne, the Vietnamese narrator and a white girl. What does it mean to be Asian? What does it mean to be white? And what makes up identity?

In Lucky Ticket, Joey Bui introduces a diverse range of characters, all with distinctive voices, and makes us think differently about identity, mixed-race relationships, difficulties between family generations, war and dislocation.

 

Audio excerpt for Lucky Ticket

 

Cat no: 4083
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Why We Can’t Sleep

When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that she had no right to complain. She was married with children and a good career. So why did she feel miserable? And why did it seem that the women around her were miserable, too?

Calhoun decided to find some answers. She looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages and divorce data. At every turn, she saw a pattern: sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials, Gen X women were facing new problems as they entered middle age, problems that were largely overlooked. Speaking with women across America about their experiences as the generation raised to ‘have it all,’ Calhoun found that most were exhausted, terrified about money, under-employed, and overwhelmed. Instead of being heard, they were told instead to lean in, take ‘me-time’, or make a chore chart to get their lives and homes in order.

In Why We Can’t Sleep, Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of this predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss—and keep the next generation of women from falling in. The result is reassuring, empowering and essential reading for all middle-aged women, and anyone who hopes to understand them.

 

Audio excerpt for Why We Cant Sleep

 

Cat no: 4080

The compelling second volume of the bestselling French fantasy series The Mirror Visitor Quartet—winner of the 2016 Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire – Roman jeunesse francophone

Suddenly Ophelia finds herself thrust into the spotlight: promoted to vice-storyteller by Farouk, the ancestral Spirit of Pole, she must tell him a story every evening. Now that her powers are known to all, she is forced to reveal the nefarious plots that have been brewing beneath the golden rafters of Citaceleste and to throw herself into the political machinations of Pole. The only person she may be able to trust is Thorn, her enigmatic fiancé. Is there more to this man than she thought? As one after another influential courtier disappears, Ophelia again finds herself implicated in an investigation that will lead her to see beyond Pole’s many illusions to the heart of a formidable truth.

 

Audio Excerpt for The Missing of Claidelune

 

Cat no: 4076
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The Buried

Fascinated by Egypt’s rich history, Peter Hessler moved with his family to Cairo just after the Arab Spring had begun.

In the midst of the revolution, he attached himself to an important archaeological dig at a site known as The Buried. In Cairo, he got to know a young gay Egyptian who struggled with pressures from the police and society. Hessler and his wife also struck up a friendship with their Arabic-language instructor, Rifaat, a cynical political sophisticate who helped explain the country’s turmoil. And a different kind of friendship was formed with their illiterate garbage collector, Sayyid, whose access to the refuse of Cairo is another kind of archaeological excavation.

Through the lives of ordinary Egyptians, Hessler creates a richly textured portrait of a revolution and the people swept up in it, drawing connections between contemporary politics and the ancient past. The Buried is a work of uncompromising intelligence and glorious humanity: an extraordinary achievement that unearths a new world for the reader.

 

Audio Excerpt for The Buried

 

Cat no: 4074
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Tired of Winning

In this dazzling debut, award-winning Australian writer Richard Cooke takes a close-up look at the state of the United States. From the theology of opioids to the aftermath of a mass shooting, from #MeToo to the paintings of George W. Bush, Cooke’s reporting takes him from an East Coast ravaged by climate change to the dangerous world of the US–Mexico border.

This is not another diner-hopping week in Trump country: it’s a radical effort to capture dissonant and varied Americas, across more than twenty states. In brilliantly rendered accounts of poets, politicians and poisoned cities, Cooke finds a nation splintering under the weight of alienation – but showing resilience and hope in the most unexpected ways.

Entertaining and terrifying in equal measure, Tired of Winning reveals the schisms and the clamour of contemporary America.

 

Audio Excerpt for Tired of Winning

 

Cat no: 4067
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The Life of Elves

A moving and deeply felt homage to the power of nature and art by one of the world’s most beloved authors.

Do two young girls have the power to change the world? Maria, raised by powerful older women, lives in a remote village in Burgundy, where she discovers her gift of clairvoyance, of healing and of communicating with nature. Hundreds of miles away in Italy, Clara discovers her musical genius and is sent from the countryside to Rome to nurture her extraordinary abilities.

Who are the mysterious elves? Will they succeed in training the girls for their higher purpose in the face of an impending war? Barbery’s The Life of Elves is the story of two children whose amazing talents will bring them into contact with magical worlds and malevolent forces. If, against all odds, they can be brought together, their meeting may shape the course of history.

Seven years after the publication of her international bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery returns with an inspiring novel about finding the divine in the domestic, about the quest for enchantment. With its cast of unforgettable characters, each fighting to preserve the idea of an enhanced life, The Life of Elves is a luminous novel about art, nature, dreams, the power of love, and how imagination can help us build a bridge to a better future.

 

Audio excerpt for The Life of Elves

 

Cat no: 3985
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Still life with Tornado

Sixteen-year-old Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has ‘done the art.’ She thinks she’s having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia.

Or maybe she’s finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can’t quite recall. After decades of staying together ‘for the kids’ and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah’s parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage.

As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original—and yet it still hurts.Insightful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this is a vivid portrait of abuse, survival, resurgence that will linger with readers long after the last page.

 

Audio excerpt for Still life with Tornado

 

Cat no: 4058
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Songbird

Jamila has left her friends, her school and her home in Iraq, and now she has a new home. It’s safe in Australia, but Jamila is finding it hard to settle in. She misses her best friend and worries for her dad’s safety back in Iraq. It’s hard to speak and write in English all day. And Jamila has a secret she wants to keep hidden.

When she joins the choir, Jamila begins to feel happy. Singing helps take her worries away. And singing will help her find her place in her new life, a place where she can shine.

Songbird is a tender story about belonging, about the importance of friendship and asking for help, and about the parts of our lives we keep concealed.

 

 Audio excerpt for Songbird
 
Cat no: 4061
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Penny Wong

Senator Penny Wong is an extraordinary Australian politician. Resolute, self-possessed and a penetrating thinker on subjects from climate change to foreign affairs, she is admired by members of parliament and the public from across the political divide. In this first-ever biography of Penny Wong, acclaimed journalist Margaret Simons traces her story: from her early life […]

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Off the Record

I have knocked on flyscreens and said to mothers of kidnapped toddlers, ‘Don’t you feel guilty for leaving your child in the front yard alone?’ I have shamed them to tears for the photographer. I have gatecrashed funerals, linked innocent corpses to local crime syndicates. Or feigned empathy to the grief-stricken to make copy from […]

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Kingdom Cons

In the court of the King, everyone knows their place. But as the Artist wins hearts and egos with his ballads, uncomfortable truths emerge that shake the Kingdom to its core. Part surreal fable and part crime romance, Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera questions the price of keeping your integrity in a world ruled by […]

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Halibut on the Moon

In his riveting new novel, internationally bestselling New York TimesNotable author and Prix Medicis étranger winner David Vann reimagines his father’s final days. Middle-aged and deeply depressed, Jim arrives in California from Alaska and surrenders himself to the care of his brother Gary, who intends to watch over him. Swinging unpredictably from manic highs to […]

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The Golden Country

In The Lucky Country, Donald Horne wanted to capture ‘what the huge continent was like…before it was peopled from all over Asia’. Sixty years later, we need to ask what Australia is like today, as it is being ‘peopled from all over Asia’, and what a century of nation building in the image of White […]

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Friends and Rivals

Four Australian women writing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—a time when stories of bush heroism and mateship abounded, a time when a writing career might be an elusive thing for a woman. Friends and Rivals is a vivid and engaging account of the intersecting and entwined lives of Ethel Turner, author of […]

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Comemadre

On the outskirts of Buenos Aires in 1907, Doctor Quintana pines for head nurse Menéndez while he and his colleagues embark on a grisly series of experiments to investigate the line between life and death. One hundred years later, a celebrated artist goes to extremes in search of aesthetic transformation, turning himself into an art […]

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Yellow Notebook

Helen Garner has kept a diary for almost all her life. But until now, those exercise books filled with her thoughts, observations, frustrations and joys have been locked away, out of bounds, in a laundry cupboard. Finally, Garner has opened her diaries and invited readers into the world behind her novels and works of non-fiction. […]

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Beyond Words

In 1985 Jacqueline Kent was content with her life. She had a satisfying career as a freelance book editor, and was emerging as a writer. Living and working alone, she relished her independence. But then she met Kenneth Cook, author of the Australian classic Wake in Fright, and they fell in love. With bewildering speed […]

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Acute Misfortune

In 2008, the artist Adam Cullen invited journalist Erik Jensen to stay in his spare room and write his biography. A publisher wanted it, Cullen said. He was sick and ready to talk. Everything would be on the record.  What followed were four years of intense honesty and a relationship that became increasingly dangerous. At […]

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