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Sydney-based writer JUSTINE ETTLER burst on to the literary scene in 1995 with The River Ophelia. But the book’s marketing led the novel to be misunderstood, and rather than enjoying the booming sales of her debut, the author pulled the book from print and moved to London. She tells ANGUS DALTON about republishing the book in the era of #MeToo, and the release of her new novel, Bohemia Beach.

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Archive Discoveries

  • A Melbourne woman proud of her 7000-year-old Persian heritage shines a light on family violence in a memoir covering three generations. SOHILA ZANJANI, author of Scattered Pearls, speaks with JENNIFER SOMERVILLE. Read on >
  • While researching for a non-fiction book about the botanical history of some of the world’s most popular alcoholic drinks, US author Amy Stewart stumbled across a gin smuggler’s altercation with a officious woman named Constance Kopp. This discovery catalysed her historical crime-fiction series based around Constance and her two sisters, set in New Jersey in 1915. As the second instalment in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is released, Angus Dalton finds out more. Read on >
  • 'Books, and lovers or friends, mark and change us. And we, in turn, mark and change them.' Melbourne novelist CATH CROWLEY writes about her longtime love of secondhand bookshops, and how the histories she found and imagined there led her to write Words in Deep Blue. Read on >
  • Meet the author who won the ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year 2015, and find out about her latest title, The Art of Keeping Secrets. Read on >
  • Biographies have long fascinated readers, serving as guides for how to live our own lives or often just giving us an intriguing peek into the world of extraordinary people. In this round-up we look at a comedian with a disability, a magician with a learning disorder, the real man behind Walter White of Breaking Bad and more. But we’re bending the biography rules a bit by also including a book by a philosopher that will prompt you to think about living a better life, a book about Aussies at war and an account of Queensland police leading lives of corruption. Read on >
  • Who would have thought that in the largely homogeneous country of China that there could be a group of people who could trace their lineage back to invading Romans? TONY GREY uncovered this intriguing bit of information while travelling in China, and here he tells how he came to write his historical novel, The Tortoise in Asia, which tells the story of Romans travelling along the Silk Road in ancient times. Read on >
  • Church attendance has been plummeting for decades, yet enrolments for church-based schools are soaring. Nearly all non-churchgoers say that they like having a church in their suburb – although they never go inside it. Leading social researcher HUGH MACKAY takes a look at our contradictory attitudes to religion in his new book, Beyond Belief. In this article, Hugh recounts a part of his own spiritual journey and how he came to write the book. Read on >
  • Stretching across generations and set on the Atherton Tablelands where she lives, the latest novel from prolific Australian author BARBARA HANNAY is a saga of loss, love, secrets and salvation. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN 
about her writing life, and how The Grazier's Wife evolved.   Read on >
  • Creativity is often thought of as a special gift bestowed on only a handful of lucky people. But as Australian novelist SUE WOOLFE points out, it’s a skill that you can cultivate. Here are five tips she used to create her latest collection of stories, Do You Love Me or What? Read on >
  • Ed Yong – science reporter for The Atlantic and blogger for National Geographic – has just published his first book, I Contain Multitudes: The microbes within us and a grander view of life. We asked him to tell us about his reading life.   What are you
reading now?
 Patient H.M. by 
Luke Dittrich, because 
my editor for my own 
book sent me a galley
 copy! I’m glad she
 did. Henry Molaison 
was arguably the most
influential patient in
all of neuroscience.
 After an operation to
cure his epilepsy, he lost the ability to form new memories – think Memento – and so taught us much about how our memories work. Dittrich is the grandson of the surgeon who operated on Molaison, and he brings a deeply personal flavor to the incisive reporting and colourful writing that characterise this book. What are your three favourite books?
 The Song of the Dodo: Island biogeography in the age of extinctions by David Quammen is natural history writing at its finest – a witty, insightful tour of the planet’s islands and what they tell us about our increasingly fragmented world. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell offers genre-hopping stories but delivers a deep fable about hope and nihilism; I stared silently out a window for the longest time when I finished 
it. Being Wrong: Adventures in the margin of error by Kathryn Schulz is a wondrous study of human error that blends literature, science and philosophy. Read on >
  • Australian author of literary and crime fiction DOROTHY JOHNSTON writes about the real-life kidnapping of a camel, coming home to Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula, and how she came to write Through a Camel’s Eye. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This is a book where the characters come alive very quickly. Emily’s thoughts reveal issues in that era. Her relatives fear a Japanese invasion, while she fears not having a bra for her developing breasts. Communists, Catholics, Italians, Japs and pierced ears are all judged and appraised in snappy dialogue, in a rural Australian setting of heatwaves and drought, rabbit plagues, snakes and screeching cockatoos. Even though Emily’s feelings are described in depth, surprising events keep the action flowing while Robertson’s empathy of William’s post-traumatic stress after war is sensitively portrayed. A warm story of self-discovery. Read on >

  • This is a funny, compelling, poignant and very, very clever book. Read on >

  • Lye writes splendidly and with great feeling and sensuality about the natural world. The bees, their hives, their lives and the rituals of beekeeping all become part of the background to a story that grows more sinister as the drought grips harder. Read on >

  • Reading this novel is like watching a rabbit caught in the headlights of a vehicle. There’s an awful fascination, almost a voyeuristic delight, in watching a man dig himself deeper into a hole of amoral sensationalism. Read on >

  • The Toymakers had me feeling joyful, but also heartbroken, embodied with a sense of happiness but also filled with a sense of dread as the book surprised me with its dark twists. Though Dinsdale laces this literary masterpiece with magic, there still remains the very unmissable presence of the reality of life as he tackles the theme of familial relationships. I highly recommend The Toymakers to you. Read on >

  • A British critic reviewing Winton’s Breath wrote, ‘Australian English must be the most consistently inventive and creative arm of the language’. Using this language in The Shepherd’s Hut, Winton creates one of Australian literature’s most memorable recent characters, while unpacking manhood, faith and the determination to survive. Read on >

  • Still Me begins with the quote ‘Know first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly’. And this is the message at the centre of the book. Fans of Jojo Moyes will know this is the third Louisa Clark book, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone and thoroughly enjoyed. Read on >

  • This book comes at a particularly poignant time in our social narrative. While addressing so many important issues, S A Jones manages to weave an incredibly beautiful story, her descriptions conjuring a beautiful image of the oddly tranquil life behind The Fortress walls. Although there are stark moments of brutality, and times where you erratically flip between loving and hating Jonathon, these moments of turmoil are what made this novel so absorbing and confronting. Read on >

  • There is nothing lofty about this tragic tale, it just is. There is no question that Vlautin is a good writer, but his story is so unrelentingly grim that at times it feels like a sadistic exercise, as if he thought of all the ways he could make Horace suffer and built the story around them. Perhaps there is a deep meaning behind Horace’s plight (socio-economic circumstances, personal choice, etc.), but mostly it just feels sad and frustrating because there is not even the faintest glimmer of hope. Read on >

  • Without revealing too much, it is the stuff of myths and legends, even time travel. And just to thoroughly confound the reader, it turns out one doctor is writing about the other. So, which one is more real, in this work of fiction based on a hideous reality. Read on >

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