Monday musings on Australian literature: Some New Releases in 2023

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.

Fiction

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 BirchWomen 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 GrenvilleAlways greener (Text, July)
  • Toni Jordan, Prettier if she smiled more (Hachette, April)
  • Leah Kaminsky, Doll’s eye (PRH, September)
  • Melissa LucashenkoEdenglassie (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 SimsionCreative 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 WomersleyOrdinary 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)

Short stories

  • Carmel Bird‘Love letter to Lola’: Eighteen stories and an author’s reflection (Spineless Wonders, May)
  • J.M. CoetzeeThe Pole and other stories (Text, July) 
  • David Cohen, The terrible event (Transit Lounge, June).
  • Laura Jean McKay, Gunflower (Scribe, October)

Non-fiction

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 GrantThe 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 NeervenPersonal 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

Poetry

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?

31 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Some New Releases in 2023

  1. This is a brilliant alert – half-a-dozen books I absolutely must read! I’d best get cracking on my already too high TBR pile. Thanks WG – again. (And yes to you re your perspective re my quibble about snow.)

  2. I can see one must read – Alexis Wright; a few, no I’m over them – Simson, Grenville, Dalton; and one I’ll try that – the Kinsella verse novel. I’d buy the Robyn Davidson memoir, but I haven’t read her last one yet.

    • I went through this list to see what’s coming out in January, as I’m having a hard time finding a book for AWW Gen 5. I tried a short story collection by Angela Slatter, but the stories weren’t even set in Australia. Maybe I need to visit some older posts that tell me what just came out (if it’s new, my library is more likely to have it).

      • Melanie, I hope you find something, but I also know you’re back at school now and have reviews lined up for some weeks ahead. Don’t worry too much about writing a review for me – I can link to it later – I’m going to run your Asphyxia anyway (on the Monday). And seeing as I’m writing to you on Sue’s blog, I can say here , Sue, that I have reserved for you your usual spot on 11pm Sat (21/1)

        • Cheeky Bill!!! I’m just planning what to read next and whether to push it meaning a rush to the finish line!!! You know me too well. I never got my school and uni assignments in late but I was always near the deadline.

      • Ah good try! I wonder if you would like Angela Meyer’s The great unknown … and whether it is available to you? I don’t always like “creepy” but the stories here were good and many are by contemporary Aussie women like Krissy Kneen, Paddy O’Reilly. Meyer’s novel, A superior spectre, is interesting too.

  3. I already have a (mostly uninspiring) list from The Australian and I will add your titles to it and cross them off as they come my way so that I don’t miss anything important, so thanks for this.
    I’ll be utterly predictable and say that I’ll be reading Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright (but quietly hoping that it’s not tooo long) plus Women and Children by Tony Birch and Melissa Lucashenko’s Edenglassie. Yes please to Gregory Day’s The Bell of the World, Catherine McKinnon’s The Great Time and Drusilla Modjeska’s Ways of Being.
    Then there are a whole lot whose fate on my shelves *depends*. If they are writing about grief, the pandemic, abuse, addiction etc, no thank you, *yawn* I have had enough, I will read instead from the TBR. A lot depends on who’s publishing it too: in general I’d rather read from an indie like Transit Lounge which has consistently good books than a global with a big marketing budget that leads me astray. (I was a bit shaken to realise just how many books I’d bought and abandoned this year: 17 at an average price of $30 = $510 on books not worth my time. Ok it’s good for the authors to buy their books but I could have bought 10 Oxfam Gardening Tool kits for that.)
    (Again, it depends) I’ll (probably) read the debuts if the publishers send them to me or if other reviewers I trust rave about them.
    I’m mildly interested in Ryan Cropp’s The life of Donald Horne (I’m actually reading his novel The Permit ATM) and less so, the ‘lit bio’ of Dorothea Mackellar, because really, I’ve never read anything of hers except That Poem. I’m more interested in the ones about Peter Carey, Frank Moorhouse and Gerald Murnane, and Susan Johnson’s Aphrodite’s Island is a definite for me.
    SO… I need to make some space on the TBR, eh?

    • You won’t be surprised to hear that what you’ve identified are also among my top wishes but I would be more keen than you I think on McKellar because of her time/era. I am of course interested in the short stories including Carmel Bird’s as I’ve already read about Lola!

      Fair point re the DNFs though as you say you’ve supported the the authors and presumably the books went to good homes or charities?!

      • Yes, you’re right about the recycling, I’ve only ever twice literally thrown out a book. Years ago a major publisher sent me a *huge* box of proof copies with Very Stern Instructions about disposing of them. So they all had to go in the recycling bin, as did a recent one that was so vile I didn’t want anybody else to read it.
        But all my other books either earn a place on the shelves in my library or they go to the OpShop or to my Little Library. I prefer them to go to OpShops because the charity makes money out of it, but a neighbour built the Little Library for me during Lockdown and a small but loyal bunch of readers really value it, especially the wheelchair user who lives in a group home round the corner and doesn’t get much opportunity to browse in a bookshop.

        • Yes, that’s another reason I hate proof copies … you can’t quote from them and you have to toss them.

          I remember your little street library …. It’s lovely.

  4. The Tsiolkas and the Susan Johnston for me… but this year I’m going to wean myself off new books (ha!) and focus on all the backlist stuff on my TBR.

  5. Hi Sue, I am not going to add any more books to my TBR list. But, I know that this will change when I read the reviews of the books I am now tempted by! Both The Age and The Australian late last year published new releases for this year, and I have added many of them to my TBR list. When will it stop! When will I get the time to read all the books I want to read?

  6. I have 2 ARC’s on hand from this list (I know you don’t like them, but they’re part of my day job) – Pip Williams, The bookbinder of Jericho and the debut writer Michael Thompson (who is a friend of Mr Books, which makes it a bit exciting). One of my former colleagues also has a debut book coming out in April with A&U which I had hoped to see on this list. But more about that when I get my ARC.

    The non-fiction probably appeals to me more this year – many the same as you. Very keen to see what Ellen van Neerven does next, and seeing Wright’s new book on the list has made me more determined to get to her previous two books.

    I am however determined to read more books from my TBR this year (despite the influx on reading copies I was given by our reps just before Christmas!)

    • Yes I know they are Brona. I have had friends in the book trade so understand all that.

      And yes I want to read more TBR books too … says she with big plans as usual.

      Good luck to Mr Books’ friend with his book.

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