Novels by award-winning Australian authors are like buses. None for ages, and then a flurry arrive all at once.
Indeed, there are so many brilliant Australian writers with new books coming out this month in Australia that the Miles Franklin Literary Award judges are really going to have their work cut out for them next year.
Here’s just five that have caught my attention (and my retail-clicking online tendencies — yes, I’ve ordered a few of these direct from Australia already).
The books have been arranged in alphabetical order according to author’s surname:
The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser
Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, “The Life to Come” is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don’t tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary. Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people. Profoundly moving as well as wickedly funny, “The Life to Come” reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present. This extraordinary novel by Miles Franklin-winning author Michelle de Kretser will strike to your soul.
Published by Allen & Unwin in Australia this month. Due to be published in the UK on 4 January.
First Person by Richard Flanagan
Six weeks to write for your life… In this blistering story of a ghostwriter haunted by his demonic subject, the Man Booker Prize winner turns to lies, crime and literature with devastating effect. A young and penniless writer, Kif Kehlmann, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl proposes a deal: $10,000 for Kehlmann to ghostwrite his memoir in six weeks. Kehlmann accepts but begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. As the deadline draws closer, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghostwriting a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him―his life, his future. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Siegfried Heidl―and who is Kif Kehlmann?
Published by Penguin in Australia this month. Due to be published in the UK by Chatto & Windus on 2 November.
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side. The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises. Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with. Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.
Published by Pan Macmillan in Australia last month. Due to be published in the UK by Little, Brown on 8 February 2018; a Kindle edition is currently available on Amazon.
The Passage of Love by Alex Miller
Robert Croft, a young Englishman, arrives in Australia in the 1950s, determined to inhabit the outback. After five years of life on the land, he makes his way to Melbourne where, living in a boarding house, working as a cleaner, he finds himself consumed by a burning need to read, write, draw, create. When he meets the enigmatic Lena, she instantly becomes his staunchest champion but as their tortured marriage evolves and gradually erodes she ultimately becomes an obstacle. This intensely autobiographical novel has much to say about the compulsion to create, and the fundamental unknowability of even our most intimate partners. As the reader sinks into the text of this singular book, the artifice of fiction gradually melts away, leaving nothing but truth on the page. In “The Passage of Love” Alex Miller has given us a masterful work which will come to define his career as one of the great writers of our time.
Published by Allen & Unwin in Australia this month. Due to be published in the UK on 1 March 2018.
“Taboo” takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar’s descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife’s dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations. But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged. We walk with the ragtag group through this taboo country and note in them glimmers of re-connection with language, lore, country. We learn alongside them how countless generations of Noongar may have lived in ideal rapport with the land. This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.
Published by Pan Macmillan in Australia in July. There is no date available for the UK — as yet.
Please note that the release dates quoted for the UK are subject to change.
Are there any on this list that have piqued your interest?