Ten 2021 books deserving a place in the sun
Every year, thousands of Australian books are published, so it’s easy for many worthy titles to be left in the shadows when published alongside bestselling authors. So here are some handpicked new books that you may have missed across the literary spectrum that deserve more time to bask in the sun.
From where i fell, Susan johnson
An email from Pamela in Australia to her ex-husband in Paris accidentally ends up in New York State teacher Chrisanthi (Chris) inbox. The two women decide to continue communicating despite everything. From where i fell explores the complexities of motherhood, family, neighborhood and career in purely letter-writing form. The book is warm, wise, and utterly convincing.
Tussaud, Belinda Lyons-Lee
A seductive mix of reality and fiction, Tussaud uses the very real figure of Marie Tussaud (the celebrity creator of the realistic wax figure) and integrates it into a story that involves a crafty magician, an eccentric duke (and his underground ballroom) and the invention of ‘a wax automaton of a girl who is long gone. There is a lot of fun in trying to figure out what’s real and what’s imaginary and where the line is blurry.
Ideas to save your life, Michael McGirr
The subtitle of this book is “Philosophy for Wisdom, Comfort and Pleasure”. Doesn’t that sound heartwarming? McGirr takes on heavyweights (Descartes, Spinoza, Rumi to name a few) and distills their message into accessible but still meaningful messages to ease the burden of everyday life.
Questions raised by Quols, Harry Saddle
A blend of philosophy and natural history, Saddler’s book addresses a small mammal and uses the plight of the quolls (threatened with extinction) as a springboard to discuss larger ecological questions regarding parenthood, climate change, and colonization.
Good indian girl, Ruhi Lee
Lee writes about the high expectations placed on a young Indian woman who grew up in Melbourne. When she becomes pregnant with a girl, she realizes that she has to confront her past lest it affect her duty to care for her child. ggood indian girl describes the struggle to connect across generational and cultural divisions with insight and humor.
Lightning fishing, edited by Sarah Holland-Batt
This is a collection of short essays on a number of Australian poets in which publisher Holland-Batt shows the reader how to pay attention to the rhythms and meaning, assonance and surprises of each poem. It’s written partly to demystify a form that scares or frustrates many people and partly to celebrate the different styles and techniques on offer.
Permafrost, SJ Normand
A first collection of short fiction films, Permafrost blurs the lines of gothic and romantic with its often lonely first-person narrators in cold destinations. It’s surreal and even dark, but it’s its ambiguity that drives the story. If you like evocative, atmospheric prose and alluring characters, check it out.
YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Romeo awake, Catherine Barker
It’s the year 2083 and Romeo is in a coma and Juliet isn’t doing well after their messy affair falls either. Can a time traveler wake him up?
It is a genre-defying mix of a novel that plays with time travel, Shakespeare and dystopian fiction. Romeo awake is a mad race that addresses questions of existentialism and fate. Good for ages 14 and over.
The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle, Pamela Rushby
Aimed at college kids with its blend of truth and imagination, Rushby’s novel introduces us to concepts like mummy unboxing parties. This historical fiction takes place in Victorian England and Egypt, including a journey down the Nile in search of – what else – other mummies. It’s a funny and exciting adventure tale, but also one that explores serious topics like cultural appropriation and theft.
Little explorers, Kat Macleod
This is a multimedia picture book about a group of miniature adventurers exploring the natural world and carrying their treasures. It is beautifully produced, with close-ups of flora and fauna, and will encourage children to take a close look at the environment around them.