Showing all posts tagged: books

The rise of experimental, strange Australian literature and fiction

29 May 2023

There’s a lot to like about smaller, independent, book publishers. The first has to be the quality of the stories they’ve been bringing to bookshelves in recent years. This is borne out by the increasing presence of indie published titles in the long and short lists of Australian literary awards such as the Stella, and the Miles Franklin.

The second is the “risk” smaller publishers — many of whom are members of the Small Network Press — will take on a book with a storyline that might be regarded as fringe, something perhaps their mainstream counterparts are reluctant to do.

Nina Culley, writing for Kill Your Darlings, says the publication of titles including Grimmish by Michael Winkler, Every Version of You by Grace Chan, and Dropbear, a collection of poetry by Evelyn Araluen, is signalling a move away from “realist” stories, towards writing more on the experimental and strange side.

Small presses, literary magazines, anthologies and poetry collections have long since encouraged outlandish stories, experimentation and play, and we are now seeing more smaller publishing houses doing the same. Publishers like Spineless Wonders, SubbedIn, UQP, Transit Lounge and Giramondo are revolutionising Australia’s literary output by responding to an expanding readership that craves literary disobedience.

I’m intrigued by what is regarded as “literary disobedience” though (much as I like the term). For instance I finished reading Every Version of You last week, and despite the novel being described as a work of speculative literary fiction, the entire premise really seemed all too plausible. But maybe I need to stop consuming as much science fiction and fantasy as I do.


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Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp wins 2023 Dublin Literary Award

26 May 2023

German author Katja Oskamp has won the 2023 Dublin Literary Award with her 2019 book Marzahn, Mon Amour. The Dublin Literary Award is an international literary award that has been recognising excellence in global literature since 1994. Books written in, or translated into, English are eligible, but must be nominated by one of the award’s participating libraries.

After Story by Larissa Behrendt, Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down, and Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au, were some of the Australian authors to be longlisted for this year’s award.


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Tiktok reading community BookTok prompts reading surge

22 May 2023

Short-form video hosting service TikTok certainly has its nay-sayers. Security analysts believe the app may be compromising the privacy of users, while lawmakers in some countries are considering banning it. But the news isn’t all bad: TikTok appears to be behind a recent surge in book readership, thanks to the app’s reading community, BookTok, according to Kristen McLean of NPD Bookscan:

The romance novel It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover was the second best-selling Adult Fiction book and sixth best-selling book overall in 2021 — selling more than 770,000 copies last year — despite being a backlist title originally published in 2016, and McLean believes that is “almost exclusively there because of BookTok,” where it was championed.


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Australian authors, illustrators say generative AI is a threat

22 May 2023

A recent poll of just over two hundred Australian Society of Authors (ASA) members reveals local authors and illustrators are concerned generative AI technologies pose a threat to their livelihoods. This despite about twenty percent of poll participants stating they made use of AI tools — if only partially — in their work.

The survey results demonstrate that while a small minority of authors are using AI tools as part of their writing and illustrating process, there is overwhelming concern about the threat generative AI poses to already precarious writing and illustrating professions.

While it seems certain authors will more fully embrace tools such as ChatGPT to help brainstorm, edit, and correct work, most ASA members feel the part AI technologies play in the writing of a book should be publicly divulged.


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Bath image sees Mem Fox children’s book removed from Florida libraries

18 May 2023

Guess What?, a children’s book written in 1988 by Adelaide, South Australia, based Australian author Mem Fox, has reportedly been removed from school libraries in the US state of Florida. An image of a character — drawn by illustrator Vivienne Goodman — taking a bath, apparently contravenes anti-pornography laws in the state:

In one illustration, Daisy sits across a double bowl sink (that she is comically too big to fit in) wearing a scuba mask. The bowls are filled with water, and she sits sideways in one with her feet splashing in the other. She is nude, but not exposed. Limbs cover her breasts and genitalia. The room is busy and pleasantly chaotic: soap on the floor, a frog on a towel, fish pegged to the clothesline that hangs over the sink. It’s far from a sexual image.

That it’s taken thirty-five years for this… transgression to come to light is mind boggling. The offending illustration — safe for work by the way, at least in Australia — can be seen here.


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Vale Gabrielle Carey, co-author of 1979 novel Puberty Blues

6 May 2023

Australian author Gabrielle Carey, who co-wrote the controversial though iconic novel Puberty Blues, with Kathy Lette, died this week in Sydney.

Set in the southern suburbs of Sydney, Puberty Blues polarised readers with its no holds barred depictions of the antics, and sexuality, of Australian adolescents. Although published in 1979, Carey and Lette began writing the novel some years earlier as teenagers. The book spawned a film adaptation in 1981, and a two-series television run in 2012.

Carey went on to write a number of other books, both fiction and non-fiction, and also worked as a freelance journalist and university lecturer.


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Limberlost, Wandering With Intent, win 2023 Age Book of Year

4 May 2023

Limberlost by Robbie Arnott, book cover

The Age Book of the Year Awards 2023 winners were announced this evening, at the opening of the 2023 Melbourne Writers Festival. The awards, presented annually, are made in two categories for Australian writing: fiction and non-fiction.

Limberlost, by Tasmanian author Robbie Arnott was named winner in the fiction category, while Wandering With Intent, by Wamboin, New South Wales based author and artist, Kim Mahood triumphed in the non-fiction category.

Arnott’s win today is his second in the awards. He also won in 2021, the year the prize returned after a nine year absence, with his 2020 novel The Rain Herron.


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The 2023 Better Reading Top 100

3 May 2023

The Wife and the Widow by Christian White, and The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams, are among Australian titles I’ve read that make the 2023 Better Reading Top 100 list.

Other books by authors outside of Australia I’ve finished, include Normal People by Sally Rooney, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

A full list of all one hundred titles in PDF format can be found here. For those not in the know, Better Reading is a Sydney based Australian community of engaged book readers. Just the sort we like…


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American libraries report increase in book challenges

26 April 2023

The American Library Association (ALA) has published a list of the top ten books subject to some sort of challenge, based on their content, or subject matter, in the last twelve months. While the majority of challenges related to books written by, or about, people of colour, and LGBTQIA+ community members, the ALA also noted a sharp overall increase in objections over the last year:

Libraries in every state faced another year of unprecedented attempts to ban books. In 2022, ALA tracked the highest number of censorship reports since the association began compiling data about library censorship more than 20 years ago. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted in 2021. Most of the targeted books were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.



The 2023 BookPeople Book of Year shortlist

21 April 2023

It’s been a busy several days for literary awards. Since last Friday, shortlists for The Age Book of the Year, the International Booker Prize, the Australian Book Industry Awards, and the Australian Book Design Awards, for book cover design, have been published.

And to cap off the week, the 2023 BookPeople Book of Year shortlist was announced earlier today. Six books have been selected in three categories: kids, adult non-fiction, and adult fiction. The following six titles are on the adult fiction shortlist:

The BookPeople Book of Year awards honour new Australian book releases, which have been selected by Australian Booksellers Association members as their favourite hand-sells of the last year. The winners in each category will be named on Sunday 19 June 2023.

Nice to see Willowman on the fiction list, I think everyone else has had at least one listing previously. Oh, and another accolade for Jessica Au’s Cold Enough for Snow. Incredible, hey?


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