Monday musings on Australian literature: RN presenters’ pick reads of the year
I was going to write my Case for post this week, but I think now that I’ll leave it to January. Life is a bit too busy right now to put proper thought into presenting my case (though I’ve pretty much decided which book it will be!) So, instead, since various media outlets are starting to publish “best” or “favourite” books of the year, I thought I’d share those from the presenters of the radio station that I most listen to, ABC Radio National.
Many did not choose Australian books, but given the theme of this post, I’m only going to share those who did. However, you can see the whole list online at Radio National. Here goes:
Damian Carrick – presenter of the Law Report – chose Helen Garner’s This house of grief. Not surprising, I suppose, that a presenter on law would choose this book about a murder trial. He was concerned, he said, that he might find it too bleak, but “from the opening page I was hooked. It’s a page turner, and as it should be it’s an aching lament to the loss of three lives”. I hate the use of the word “aching” in reviews but regular readers here will know that I liked it too.
- Jonathan Green – presenter of Sunday Extra – chose Richard Flanagan’s The narrow road to the deep north. I’m glad someone did! He felt that, given it had won the Booker Prize, “anything I say isn’t much more than licking the spoon that somebody else used to put the icing on the cake. Even so, gosh this is a good book”. I agree.
- Lynne Malcolm – presenter of All in the Mind – chose comedian Tim Ferguson’s Carry a big stick. Again, it’s not a surprising choice for the presenter of a program about the mind and the brain, as this book is a memoir focusing particularly on Ferguson’s being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Malcolm refers to Ferguson’s progress from denial to eventual admission when he could hide the condition no longer.
- Rhianna Patrick – presenter of AWAYE – chose Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and light. This is a book I have on my TBR. Here’s what Patrick says “Van Neerven is part of what I see as the next wave of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers, who are university graduates in creative writing. What’s clear early on is van Neerven’s exploration of indigeneity and sexuality, and whether the two can coexist”. That intrigues me. Why can’t they coexist? Clearly, I’ll have to read it to find out.
- Robyn Williams – presenter of the long-running Science Show – chose Evie Wyld’s All the birds, singing. He says that “It may be about blokes with beers and rugged times on the land, but the voice is always clear and convincing”. Hmm, blokes with beers do appear but I wouldn’t quite say that’s what it was “about”. However, I like the fact that he appreciates Wyld’s voice. (You can check out my review if you like. I expect it will feature high in my top books – when I do my list in January).
Other choices included Eleanor Catton’s The luminaries, and Eimear McBride’s A girl is a half-formed thing, both of which I’ve reviewed this year. The most interesting choice, from my point of view anyhow, was from Ann Jones, presenter of Off the Track. She chose Mexican writer Juan Pablo Villalobos’s Down the Rabbit Hole which she described as “fantastically surreal and brutally real”.
For each of the choices, there is a sound grab (at the link I provided above) that you can listen to which gives you a little more about their reasons. I don’t find them all enlightening, but I do find it interesting at this time of year to hear people’s choices and why they chose them.
Have you chosen your favourite book of the year, or are you, like me, waiting until the year is over? (Even then, I suspect, I won’t be able to choose ONE book to top all the others but I will have some favourites.)