John Sharpe

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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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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 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 Australia has meant for our country.

John Howard was the unlikely reformer of contemporary Australia. He transformed the migration system, creating the first immigration boom since the White Australia policy ended and dramatically diversifying the population. Yet his divisive rhetoric about national identity has hamstrung discussion about what these changes mean. As a result, Australia is a successful multicultural society with monocultural institutions and symbols.

Tim Watts’ family personifies this contradiction. His children are descendants of Hong-Kong—Chinese migrants and of pre-Federation politicians who sought to build a nation that excluded anyone who wasn’t white. As the representative of a diverse federal electorate, Watts asks: why is Australia’s imagined community so far behind its lived community, and what can we do about it?

Audio excerpt for The Golden Country

Cat no: 4085
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On a Wing and a Prayer

In 1934, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor announced a London-to-Melbourne air race to celebrate his city’s centenary.

The audacious plan captured imaginations across the globe: newspapers and magazines everywhere were filled with it; the world’s pilots scrambled to get sponsorship; and the organisers scrambled to get the rules straight and permission to fly in foreign air space.Sixty-four entrants from eleven countries signed up, but only twenty planes eventually took off on 20 October 1934. The winner arrived in Melbourne seventy-one hours later—but three planes crashed and two pilots died in the attempt.

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Someday

Every day a new body. Every day a new life. Every day a new choice.

For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person’s body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. A always thought there wasn’t anyone else who had a life like this.

But A was wrong. There are others.

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Hell of a Time

Philip Owen Ayton was working on the Sydney tramways when the call to join the fight against Germany came. Keen for action, he found himself in the First Field Company Engineers in the First Division of the Australian Imperial Forces.

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Botany Bay and the First Fleet

In 1787 a convoy of eleven ships, carrying about 1400 people, set out from England for Botany Bay, on the east coast of New South Wales. In deciding on Botany Bay, British authorities hoped not only to rid Britain of its excess criminals, but also to gain a key strategic outpost and take control of valuable natural resources.

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Europe – A Natural History

It is hard to overstate just how unusual Europe was towards the end of the age of the dinosaurs. It was a dynamic island arc whose individual landmasses were made up of diverse geological types, including ancient continental fragments, raised segments of oceanic crust, and land newly minted by volcanic activity. Yet even at this early stage Europe was exerting a disproportionate influence on the world. About 100 million years ago, the interaction of three continents – Asia, North America and Africa – formed the tropical island archipelago that would become the Europe of today, a place of exceptional diversity, rapid change and high energy.

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West

West is an exquisite first novel set on the American frontier.

Addled by grief after the death of his wife, and prompted by reports of colossal animal bones found in Kentucky, John Cyrus Bellman sets off on his quest, leaving behind his only daughter, Bess, to be cared for by her aunt.

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Books that Saved My Life

Great literature is thrilling. It will feed your hungry mind and take your heart on a journey. It will help you on the wonderful path to one of life’s most elusive and hard-won freedoms, freedom from the ego.

Here is a book about the sheer joy of living, exploring forty texts that can enrich us in all manner of ways. Some are recent, such as Harry Potter; some ancient, such as Homer and Lao Tzu. [click to continue…]

Thumbnail image for Charles Kingsford Smith: King of the Air

Charles Kingsford Smith: King of the Air

Charles Kingsford Smith was the most commanding flyer of the golden age of aviation. In three short years, he broke records with his as- tounding and daring voyages: the first trans-Pacific flight from America to Australia, the first flight across the Tasman, the first non-stop cross- ing of the Australian mainland. He did it all […]

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A Curious Life

From the slums and religious indoctrination of northern England to front-line research institutions worldwide, stem cell pioneer Robert Tindle’s relentless curiosity led him to a remarkable career in fields as disparate as evolutionary biology and immunotherapy for cancer.

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The Accident on the A35

The methodical but troubled Chief Inspector Georges Gorski visits the wife of a lawyer killed in a road accident, the accident on the A35. The case is unremarkable, the visit routine.

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Simon Leys Navigator Between Worlds

Simon Leys is the pen-name of Pierre Ryckmans, who was born in Belgium and settled in Australia in 1970. He taught Chinese literature at the Australian National University and was Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney from 1987 to 1993. He died in 2014.

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Merdeka and the Morning Star

West Papua is a secret story. On the western half of the island of New Guinea, hidden from the world, in a place occupied by the Indonesian military since 1963, continues a remarkable nonviolent struggle for national liberation. In Merdeka and the Morning Star, academic Jason MacLeod gives an insider’s view of the trajectory and […]

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The Water Will Come

What if Atlantis wasn’t a myth, but an early precursor to a new age of great flooding? Across the globe, scientists and civilians alike are noticing rapidly rising sea levels, and higher and higher tides pushing more water directly into the places we live, from our most vibrant, historic cities to our last remaining traditional […]

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The Book of Dirt

They chose not to speak and now they are gone…What’s left to fill the silence is no longer theirs. This is my story, woven from the threads of rumour and legend. Jakub Rand flees his village for Prague, only to find himself trapped by the Nazi occupation. Deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, he is […]

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Basket of Deplorables

Almost true stories for a post-truth world. A Manhattan party on election night. Liberal media types gather with big grins and high-end canapés to watch the Trump-Clinton results come in, expecting a smooth victory for Hillary.

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You Must Be Kitch Loughnan – a memoir

“I have had a charmed life! I have been electrocuted, thrown by bucking horses, had a snake in my pants, been horned out of the yards by wild cattle, caught in a windmill, bashed, machine-gunned, torpedoed and chased by an elephant.

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Sunlight and Seaweed

Acclaimed scientist Tim Flannery investigates exciting new technologies currently being developed to address our most pressing environmental threats in a book that presents a positive future for us and our planet. Climate change, food production and toxic pollution present huge challenges, but, as Flannery shows, we already have innovative, practical and inspiring solutions. Solar energy […]

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