Monday musings on Australian literature: Some New Releases in 2020

It seems from my stats that people like my “new releases” post, so here is the 2020 version. As in previous years, my list is mostly drawn from the Sydney Morning Herald, and as it is a Monday musings on Australian literature post, it will be limited to Australian authors (listed alphabetically.) Do click on the link to their see coming releases from non-Aussies, or from those Aussies I’ve omitted because I’ve only listed those most relevant to me, or for some basic information about the books.

Last year, I listed 27 fiction works, and read only four of them – but I will be reading a few more of them in the next 2-3 months.

Links on the authors’ names are to my posts on them.


  • Patrick Allington’s Rise and shine (Scribe, June)
  • Richard Anderson’s Small Mercies (Scribe)
  • Robbie Arnott’s The rain heron (TextJune)
  • Margaret Bearman’s We were never friends (Brio, March)
  • James Bradley’s Ghost species (Hamish Hamilton, April)
  • Steven Conte’s The Tolstoy estate (Fourth Estate, August)
  • Trent Dalton‘s Shimmering skies (Vintage, June)
  • Meaghan Delahunt’s The night-side of the country (UWAP, March)
  • Jon Doust’s Return Ticket (Fremantle Press, March)
  • Ceridwen Dovey’s Life after truth (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Chris Flynn’s Mammoth (UQP, May, UQP).
  • Dennis Glover’s Factory 19 (Black Inc., July)
  • Kate Grenville‘s A room made of leaves (Text, July) (Coincidentally, Michelle Scott Tucker recently blogged about this Elizabeth Macarthur inspired novel. Do check it out!)
  • Sophie Hardcastle’s Below deck (Allen & Unwin, March)
  • Tom Keneally’s The Dickens boy (Vintage, April)
  • Book coverKirsten Krauth‘s Almost a mirror (TransitMarch)
  • Sofie Laguna‘s Big sky (working title) (Allen & Unwin, second half)
  • Bem Le Hunte’s Elephants with headlights (Transit, March)
  • S.L. Lim’s Revenge (Lounge, June)
  • Jamie Marina Lau‘s Gunk Baby (Brow BooksMay)
  • Donna Mazza’s Fauna (Allen & Unwin, February)
  • Kate Mildenhall’s The mother fault (Simon and Schuster, September)
  • Liam Pieper’s Sweetness and light (Hamish Hamilton, March)
  • Mirandi Riwoe‘s Stone sky gold mountain (UQP, April)
  • Craig Silvey‘s Honeybee (working title) (Allen & Unwin, second half)

I have been wondering what Grenville was working on, so am pleased to see another novel coming our from her. And, I’m very pleased to see Krauth and Riwoe producing new novels after their powerful debuts.

SMH also lists “new voices” (including new forms for old voices!):

  • Paul Dalgarno’s Poly (Ventura, August)
  • Anna Goldsworthy’s Melting moments (Black Inc, March) (old voice)
  • Erin Hortle’s The octopus and I (Allen & Unwin, April)
  • Tobias McCorkell’s Everything in its right place (Transit Lounge, July)
  • Laura Jean McKay’s The animals in that country (Scribe, April)
  • Andrew Pippos’ Lucky’s (Picador, second half)
  • Alice Pung‘s One hundred days (Black Inc., October) (old voice)
  • Ronnie Scott’s The adversary (Hamish Hamilton, April)
  • Pip Williams’ The dictionary of lost words (Affirm, April).

Short stories

Yes, I know these are fiction too, but they deserve a special section!

  • Emma Ashmere‘s Dreams they forgot (Wakefield Press, April)
  • Laura Elvery’s Ordinary matter (UQP, second half)
  • Mark O’Flynn’s Dental tourism (Puncher & Wattmann, February, );
  • Elizabeth Tan’s Smart ovens for lonely people (Brio, June, Brio)

Book coverAnd some “new” short story voices:

  • Melissa Manning’s Smokehouse (UQP, second half the year)
  • Wayne Marshall’s Shirl (February, Affirm)
  • Sean O’Beirne’s A couple of things before the end (Black Inc., February)
  • Stephen Pham’s Vietnamatta (Brow Books, October)
  • Barry Lee Thompson’s Broken rules and other stories (Transit Lounge, August)


SMH provides a long list of new non-fiction books covering a huge range of topics, so my list is selective – but still, there’s a lot:

  • Randa Abdel-Fattah’s Growing up in the Age of Terror (NewSouth, July)
  • Elizabeth Becker’s Journaliste (Black Inc., September): on female journalists during the Vietnam War
  • Elise Bohan’s Future superhuman (NewSouth, October): on embracing the “transhuman”
  • Rutger Bregman’s Human kind (Oneworld, second half): on how altruism offers a new way to think
  • Bernard Collaery’s Oil under troubled water, March, MUP): the story of his being charged after exposing an Australian bugging operation in East Timor
  • Peter Cronau’s War on Terror (The Base, June): Australia’s role in the War on Terror
  • Robert Dessaix’s Time of our lives (Briosecond half): on ageing
  • Lindy Edwards’ Corporate power in Australia (Monash, February): on big business
  • Carly Findlay’s (ed) Growing up disabled in Australia (Black Inc, June): see my post on the Growing up series.
  • Fiona Foley’s Biting the clouds (UQP, September): 19th century Aboriginal “protection” and Indigenous opium addiction.
  • Rebecca Giggs’ Fathoms: the world in the whale: “the stories we tell about whales, what those stories signal about how we imagine our own species, and what whales reveal about the health of the planet” (from Scribe)
  • Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Women and leadership (Vintage, July): gender bias
  • Book coverSubhash Jaireth’s Spinoza’s overcoat: Travels with writers and poets (February, Transit): on writers and writing
  • Ketan Joshi’s Road to resolution (NewSouth, August): climate change
  • Royce Kurmelovs’ Just Money (UQP, second half): on our debt
  • Garry Linnell’s Badlands (Michael Joseph, September): the fall of the Australian bushranger
  • Sophie McNeill’s We can’t say we didn’t know (HarperCollins, March): stories from war-ravaged areas by a former ABC Middle-East Correspondent
  • Paddy Manning’s Body count (S&S, May): climate change
  • Rory Medcalf’s Contest for the Indo-Pacifc (March, La Trobe): on “regional tensions”
  • Patrick Mullins’ The trials of Portnoy: how Penguin broke through Australia’s censorship system: “the first account of the audacious publishing decision that — with the help of booksellers and readers around the country — forced the end of literary censorship in Australia” (quoted from Scribe)
  • Jonica Newby’s Climate grief (NewSouth, September): climate change
  • Aaron Smith’s The rock (Transit, November): Australia as perceived from its northerly outpost, Thursday Island
  • Victor Steffensen’s Fire country (Hardie Grant, March): looks at how Indigenous fire practices might help our country (from an Indigenous fire practitioner)
  • Gabbie Stroud’s Dear Parents (Allen & Unwin, February, A&U): by the author of the well-regarded Teacher
  • Malcolm Turnbull’s A Bigger Picture (Hardie GrantApril): from our latest ex-Prime Minister
  • Marian Wilkinson’s Carbon Club (Allen & Unwin, June): climate change

I note that a book that was flagged for coming out last year – and which I noticed didn’t appear – is now flagged for this year: journalist Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence (Fourth Estate, April).

It’s interesting, encouraging and not surprising to see quite a few books on climate change in the above list.

Biography and memoir (loosely defined)

  • Darleen Bungey’s Daddy Cool (Allen & Unwin, May): “memoir” of crooner Laurie Brooks, father of biographer Bungey and writer Geraldine Brooks. Can you write a memoir of someone not yourself? Or, is this a hybrid memoir-biography?
  • Gabrielle Carey‘s Only happiness here (UQP, second half): on Australian-born novelist Elizabeth von Arnim (whose work I love and for whom I have another biography already on my TBR)
  • Melissa Davey’s A fair trial (Scribe, second half of the year): on George Pell
  • David Duffy (Radio Girl, May, A&U): on the first Australian woman electrical engineer, Florence Violet McKenzie
  • Clementine Ford’s How we love (Allen & Unwin, second half): on her experience of love
  • Evelyn Juers’ The dancer (Giramondo, September): on Philippa Cullen
  • Mary Li’s Ballet, Li, Sophie and me (Viking, September): memoir by Australian ballerina, and wife of Li Cunxin
  • Alex Miller: a memoir untitled? (Allen & Unwin, second half): on his friend and mentor, Max Blatt
  • Cassandra Pybus’ Truganini (Allen & Unwin, March): on the titular Indigenous Tasmanian woman
  • Miranda Tapsell’s Top End girl (Hachette, May): memoir
  • Robert Wainwright: untitled (July, Allen & Unwin): on the great granddaughter of the Lindeman wines founder, Enid Lindeman
  • Donna Ward’s She I dare not name (Allen & Unwin, March): on being a spinster

Does anything here interest you?

26 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Some New Releases in 2020

  1. LOL Sue, when you (and others) did this last year, I made a note of the ones that interested me and put them into my Outlook Reminders. I’ve read 72 books released in 2019, and I still have 25 left on that Reminders list.
    I don’t think I’d better set myself up for more failure with this latest list of yours!

  2. You’ll have to do a bigger list. I could see only one must-buy – Elizabeth Tan. Short Stories! Oh well. And I’d better get a move on and read Pink Mountain if Lau has another one coming. That looks like I already have it, but I don’t yet.

    • You want more, Bill!!? LOL. I could have done more – after all, I didn’t do the crime! Seriously though, just one? I agree about Tan though – what a great title. I’m intrigued. Presumably it’s one of the stories in the collection.

  3. Sofie Laguna‘s Big sky (working title) (Allen & Unwin, second half)
    I do hope she changes it ! – Kate Anderson’s Jackson Brodie is already under one.

    • Ah, Kate Atkinson, M-R! Took me a while to figure that out 😉 Still, there are many titles that are duplicated. I’m sure there’s more than one western novel and film, for that matter, with that title?!

      • Bugger me ! – I would have called my book “Breath”, but for the imminent release of Tim. Thought it was some kind of nono. 😦

        • Some duplications are trickier than others… That probably would gave been one of them. Though, when you are talking completely different forms, novel and memoir, it’s probably not as big an issue. Still, I think your decision was sensible given Winton’s stature!

  4. Hi Sue, thanks for adding to my list! I am still tying to catch up with 2019 reads. But I will be read Sofie Lauguna, Robbie Arnott, and Ceridwen Dovey novels.

  5. There’s a lot to look forward to this year! My New Year’s resolution is to buy one novel by an Australian author each month of 2020, so I’ll be watching out for quite a few of these.

  6. Looking forward to the “new releases’ list 2021 !!
    I will use the 2020 list to jump-start my Aussie Reading…..after the ‘covid’ collapse.
    I’m learning to focus again in the corona quarantimes!

    • That’s great to hear Nancy, and all being well I will do my traditional new releases next year around the same time. I think some of this years new releases have been delayed with many coming out between now and Xmas! You may not therefore be able to find all the ones I’ve listed here – yet!

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