Maintaining tradition, my first Monday Musings of the year once again focuses on “new releases”. As before, it is primarily drawn from the Sydney Morning Herald. Jane Sullivan and the team do a wonderful job of surveying publishers large and small, but I have added a couple of my own! Also, as this is Monday musings on Australian literature post, my focus is Australian authors in areas of interest or relevance to me. Click on the SMH link to see the full list, which includes non-Aussies, Aussies I haven’t selected, plus additional info about many of the books.
As usually happens, some books listed here were listed last year but, for some reason, were not published on schedule.
Links on the authors’ names are to my posts on those authors.
I have read a very small number from last year’s list, but a few more are on my TBR and will be read this year. (Indeed, one is almost finished right now!) Here’s this year’s selection:
- Kim E. Anderson, Prize (Pantera Press, April)
- Tony Birch, Women and children (UQP, November)
- Stephanie Bishop, The anniversary (Hachette, April)
- Benjamin Stevenson, Everyone on this train is a suspect (Penguin Random House or PRH, October)
- Trent Dalton, untitled (Fourth Estate, October).
- Gregory Day, The bell of the world (Transit Lounge, March)
- Robert Gott, Naked ambition (Scribe, May)
- Kate Grenville, Always greener (Text, July)
- Toni Jordan, Prettier if she smiled more (Hachette, April)
- Leah Kaminsky, Doll’s eye (PRH, September)
- Melissa Lucashenko, Edenglassie (UQP, October)
- Catherine McKinnon, The great time (Fourth Estate, August)
- Rachel Matthews, Never look desperate (Transit Lounge, September)
- Drusilla Modjeska, Ways of being (PRH, November)
- Kate Morton, Homecoming(A&U, April)
- Graeme Simsion, Creative differences (Text, January)
- Tracy Sorensen, The vitals (Picador, second half 2023)
- Christos Tsiolkas, The in-betweens (A&U, November)
- Pip Williams, The bookbinder of Jericho (Affirm, April)
- Chris Womersley, Ordinary gods and monsters (Picador, second half 2023)
- Alexis Wright, Praiseworthy (Giramondo, April)
- Emma Young, The disorganisation of Celia Stone (Fremantle, September)
SMH lists many books under Crimes and Thrillers, but this is not my area of expertise. So, I’m going to leave you to check SMH’s link if you are interested, and just bring a couple to your attention. They tell us that “the ever-popular small town with dark secrets plot gets a good work-out” in:
- Lucy Campbell, Lowbridge (Ultimo, July);
- Nikki Mottram, Crows Nest (UQP, February)
I mention them because UQP and Ultimo are worthwhile independent publishers. Dervla McTiernan has another book coming out, and there’s more, as I said, if you are interested.
SMH also lists Debut Australian fiction, including some the result of “heated auctions” and some winners of manuscript prizes:
- Mikki Brammer, The collected regrets of Clover (Viking, May): sold in 23 countries
- Andre Dao, Anam (PRH, May): won the Victorian Premier’s fiction award for an unpublished manuscript
- Pip Finkemeyer, Sad girl novel (Ultimo, October)
- Annette Higgs, On a bright hillside in paradise (PRH, July): won the 2022 Penguin literary prize
- Megan Rogers, The heart is a Star (Fourth Estate, May)
- Molly Schmidt, Salt River Road (Fremantle, November): won the City of Fremantle Hungerford prize
- Aisling Smith, After the rain (Hachette, May), won the Richell prize
- Michael Thompson, How to be remembered (A&U, March)
- Dianne Yarwood, The wakes (Hachette, March)
- Carmel Bird, ‘Love letter to Lola’: Eighteen stories and an author’s reflection (Spineless Wonders, May)
- J.M. Coetzee, The Pole and other stories (Text, July)
- David Cohen, The terrible event (Transit Lounge, June).
- Laura Jean McKay, Gunflower (Scribe, October)
SMH includes a wide range of new non-fiction books, so this is just a selection.
Life-writing (loosely defined, and selected to those focused mainly on the arts and activism)
- Belinda Alexandra, Emboldened (Affirm, April): novelist on some women who saved her after she ran from home in terror
- Ryan Cropp, The life of Donald Horne (Black Inc, August): biography
- Robyn Davidson, Unfinished woman (Bloomsbury, October): Tracks author’s memoir
- Marele Day, Reckless (Ultimo, May): novelist’s memoir about her long friendship with an international fugitive
- Helen Elliott, Eleven letters to you (Text, May): journalist/critic on her younger years
- Deborah Fitzgerald, In search of Dorothea (Simon & Schuster, August): biography of Dorothea Mackellar
- Martin Flanagan, untitled (PRH, no date): journalist’s memoir on his time at a Catholic boarding school
- Anna Funder, Wifedom (PRH, July): biography of Eileen Orwell, George Orwell’s ignored-by-biographers wife
- Louise Hansen, Smashing serendipity (Fremantle Press, February): Binjareb Nyoongar woman’s story of her fight against violence and racism
- Susan Johnson, Aphrodite’s Island (A&U, May): novelist on a year with her mother on the Greek island of Kythera
- Krissy Kneen, Fat girl dancing (Text, May): third in her memoir series
- Sarah Krasnostein, On Peter Carey (Black Inc, June): from Writers on Writers series
- Matthew Lamb, Frank Moorhouse: A Discontinuous Life (PRH, December): biography of Moorhouse, proponent of the “discontinuous narrative”
- Frances Peters Little, Jimmy Little: A Yorta Yorta man (Hardie Grant, April): daughter on her First Nations’ musician father
- Priya Nadesalingam with Rebekah Holt, Back to Biloela (A&U, October): on the refugee family’s ordeal on Christmas Island and final return to Biloela
- Sam Neill, Did I ever tell you this? (Text, March): actor’s memoir
- Matt Preston, Big mouth (PRH, November): billed as “a rock’n’roll memoir of death, guns and the occasional scandal”.
- Jeanne Ryckmans, Trust: A fractured fable (Upswell, August): memoir and detective story
- Emmett Stinson, Murnane (MUP, August): biography of Gerald Murnane
SMH also lists biographies and memoirs on/by politicians but, again, I’m taking a break from parliamentary politics, so check SMH’s link, if you are interested. However, I will note that journalist Chris Wallace’s Political lives (NewSouth, February) is based on her interviews with all living 20th-century Australian prime ministers and their biographers. That second part increases its interest for me.
There are also two whistleblower stories coming out: Bernard Collaery’s The trial: Defending East Timor (MUP, late 2023) on being prosecuted, with “Witness K”, by the federal government for allegedly breaching the Intelligence Services Act, and David McBride’s The nature of honour (PRH, no date) on his facing prosecution for exposing alleged war crimes.
History and other non-fiction (esp. racism, sexism, environmental issues)
- Kate Auty, O’Leary of the Underworld (Black Inc, February): examines a massacre
- Victor Briggs, Seafaring (Magabala, April): history, with First Nations perspective
- Chanel Contos, untitled (Macmillan, no date): “a radical rethinking of what yes means when it comes to sex”.
- Megan Davis, Quarterly Essay On the Uluru Statement from the Heart (Black Inc, June): First Nations
- Osman Faruqi, The Racist Country (PRH, August): racism
- Clementine Ford, I don’t (A&U, October): challenges accepted ideas about marriage
- Stan Grant, The Queen is dead (Fourth Estate, May): “pull-no-punches” look at colonialism, the monarchy and its bitter legacy for First Nations Australians
- David Marr, A family business (Black Inc, October): history, First Nations focused
- Shireen Morris and Damien Freeman (ed.), Statements from the Soul (Black Inc, February): First Nations issue
- Lucia Osborne-Crowley, Maxwell (A&U, second half of 2023): on Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial and its implications for reparative justice
- Grace Tame and Michael Bradley, Cancelled (Hardie Grant, September): on cancel culture.
- Ellen van Neerven, Personal score (UQP, May): racism
- Penny van Oosterzee, Cloud Land (A&U, February): on the tropical rainforest of northern Queensland
- Justyn Walsh, Eating the earth (UQP, July): “an incisive celebration and a critique of modern capitalism”
- Dave Witty, In search of lost trees (Monash University Publishing, May): meditation on nature
Finally, for poetry lovers, here’s what they list, but there are more if you go to the relevant publisher websites:
- Stuart Barnes, Like to the Lark (Upswell, February)
- Bonny Cassidy, Monument, (Giramondo, October)
- Amy Crutchfield, The Cyprian (Giramondo, September): 2020 winner of the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize,
- Madison Godfrey, Dress rehearsals (A&U, March): verse memoir about “a decade of performing womanhood in a non-binary body”
- John Kinsella, Cellnight (Transit Lounge, April): verse novel
- John Kinsella, Harsh Hakea (UWA Publishing, February): collected poems, volume 2
- Kate Larsen, Public.Open.Space (Fremantle, July): debut collection after a decade working as an insta poet
- David McCooey’s The book of falling (Upswell, February)
- Kate Middleton, Television (Giramondo, October)
- S.J. Norman, Blood from a stone (UQP, November): verse memoir about the legacy of violence towards women
- PiO The dirty t-shirt tour (Giramondo, August): verse account of a US poetry tour
- Omar Sakr, Non-essential work (UQP, April)
And, one final surprise – we do expect to see the winner of Finlay Lloyd’s 20/40 Prize in November. That could be anything – but whatever it is, it is sure to be worth waiting for.
Anything here interest you?