What Am I Reading?

Scrublands – Chris Hammer

Journalist Chris Hammer’s crime novel Scrublands (Allen & Unwin Books 2018) burst onto the scene with a lot of fanfare as an addition to the genre ‘outback noir’, which includes books such as Jane Harper’s The Dry. Much of this categorisation is related to the...

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things – Jon McGregor

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (The 4th Estate 2017, first published by Bloomsbury Publishing UK 2002) by Jon McGregor is a remarkable piece of writing – a literary narrative that immerses the reader in the ordinary happenings of one particular street on one...

The War Artist – Simon Cleary

Brisbane author Simon Cleary’s previous novels The Comfort of Figs and Closer to Stone are fine works, but I think his latest release The War Artist (UQP 2019) might be his most accomplished yet. This story had me gripped from beginning to end. I’m not sure what I...

Sleeping Dogs – Sonya Hartnett

Australian author Sonya Hartnett’s dark YA novella Sleeping Dogs (Penguin Random House 1995) is a compact, precise and unsettling depiction of a family bound by secrets and violence, and their disturbing encounter with a stranger. The Willow family scrabbles to exist...

Islands – Peggy Frew

Islands (Allen & Unwin Books 2019) by Peggy Frew, the author of Hope Farm and House of Sticks, is yet another example of this writer’s skill in reproducing a finely-drawn and nuanced portrait of a family in crisis. At the centre of the story is Anna, a rebellious...

Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor

I have come up gasping for air after finishing Jon McGregor’s remarkable novel Reservoir 13 (HarperCollins 4th Estate 2017). This book is literary magic, a slow burn of a story with the tragedy of a missing teenager haunting all of the characters of this small English...

Little Gods – Jenny Ackland

Little Gods (Allen & Unwin Books 2018) by Jenny Ackland has been on my TBR pile for a while now but was speedily moved up when it was recently longlisted for the Stella Prize. Reminiscent of Sofie Laguna’s The Choke, Little Gods features the distinct and endearing...

The Rip – Mark Brandi

Mark Brandi’s debut Wimmera was one of my favourite crime novels of 2017, and while Brandi’s new book The Rip (Hachette Australia Books 2019) in many ways (particularly setting) couldn’t be more different, what it has in common with Wimmera is the unique voice and...

Normal People – Sally Rooney

There has been a lot of hype about Normal People (Faber & Faber Books 2018), the second novel by young Irish author Sally Rooney. Readers are raving about it. But pinpointing what exactly they love about this story is hard to define. This novel captivated me – it...

Goodwood – Holly Throsby

After reading Holly Throsby’s recent release Cedar Valley, I was keen to read her debut novel Goodwood (Allen & Unwin Books 2016). The two fictional towns, set in the rural south of Australia, are depicted with a keen eye for the claustrophobic life of small...

Man Out of Time – Stephanie Bishop

Stephanie Bishop’s new novel Man Out of Time (Hachette Australia Books 2018) was nothing I expected. This extraordinary portrait of a man and his descent into madness, and the deterioration of his relationships with those around him, is presented in beautiful language...

The Scholar – Dervla McTiernan

I thoroughly enjoyed Dervla McTiernan’s debut crime novel, The Ruin, and in her follow-up book The Scholar (HarperCollins 2019), we are reacquainted with the warm and enormously likeable DS Cormac Reilly. In this second book, Detective Reilly and his partner (in life,...