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'I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills,’ goes the opening to KAREN BLIXEN’s memoir, Out of Africa. The author suffered many losses in her life, including her beloved 6000-acre estate in British East Africa, writes AKINA HANSEN. 
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Archive Discoveries

  • Kentucky-based writer KAYLA RAE WHITAKER tells gr about her debut novel, The Animators, which follows the turbulent creative partnership between two indie animators in New York City. Read on >
  • Writer MIKE LUCAS and illustrator JENNIFER HARRISON tell gr about Olivia’s Voice, a new picture book about a deaf girl. Read on >
  • Best known for his role as a team captain on ABC TV’s Spicks and Specks, ALAN BROUGH has also worked as a radio presenter,
actor and stand- up comedian. In the 1990s he also appeared in a series of TV commercials as a drag queen called Marge. He had always wanted to write, and now he has fulfilled that ambition with his new children’s book, Charlie and the War Against the Grannies. He tells us about the books that have made him the reader and writer that he is today. Read on >
  • Former pop-punk rocker LEN VLAHOS tells Good Reading about his new YA novel, Life in a Fishbowl, and how Marcus Zusak inspired him to write from the perspective of a brain tumour. 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 >
  • JOHN KINSELLA is the author of 30 books and is the three-time winner of the WA Premier's Book Award for Poetry. He's a fellow at Cambridge's Churchill college and the editor of international literary journal Salt. The self-described vegan/anarchist/pacifist tells Good Reading asked him about his new short story collection, Old Growth.   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 >
  • KIRI FALLS was introduced to the works of English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) when she saw the 2004 BBC production of North & South. Last year, the 150th anniversary of Gaskell’s death, Kiri decided to make a pilgrimage to the newly renovated Manchester home of the great lady. Read on >
  • We chat to aspiring astronaut and sci-fi writer S J Kincaid on haunted graveyards, Star Trek, and her new YA galactic thriller, The Diabolic.  Read on >
  • Marine biologist SHANNON LEONE FOWLER was embracing her fiancé, Sean, in the ocean off the coast of Thailand when a box jellyfish stung and killed him.Thai authorities tried to dismiss his death as a drunk drowning. Traveling with Ghosts follows the months Shannon spent on a strange trajectory through Eastern Europe, fleeing from the ocean and from grief. She tells us how her memoir came to be, 14 years after Sean’s death. Read on >
  • In her latest novel, Melbourne author JANE RAWSON adds an air of otherworldliness to the story of her ancestor who survived a 19th-century shipwreck. She talks to MAUREEN EPPEN about history, aliens and the benefits of having been a ‘hack writer’ for 25 years.  Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • I found this a compelling tale of Willa’s journey towards a point in her life where she wonders if she can break free of the plans others make for her and the paths they expect her to follow. I plan to read some of Tyler’s other 21 novels. Read on >

  • This is a magnificent and compelling novel. The characters are so different from each other that it seems each deserves a novel of their own, but a love of nature and what it might mean to lose it draws them together. But the real stars of the novel are the trees; the story explores what science is now telling us about trees as sentient, social beings and speculates as to where undiscovered cures for diseases might lie. And it compels us to be grateful for the bounty of forests we are thoughtlessly squandering, and to consider what it might be like to live without them. One of the great novels of the year for me. Read on >

  • The Patient X of the title is noted Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa, who lived in tumultuous times before committing suicide in 1927 at the age of 35. Perhaps the best known of Akutagawa’s stories in the west is Rashomon, which used multiple viewpoints to tell the story of a crime. He was influenced by Western authors like Edgar Allan Poe as well as traditional Japanese and Chinese stories, and a combination of Eastern and Western thought and religion. Read on >

  • Ponti Sharlene Teo Ponti (short for Pontianak, the cannibalistic female ghost-monster of Malay legend) is the story of three women; Szu and Circe, teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, and Szu’s mother, Amisa, a former beauty who starred in a series of B-grade horror movies as the Ponti character. Read on >

  • This novel starts with threats of burning and fire-lighting, and continues the bonfire theme throughout. The book consists entirely of entries from a diary, letters, newspapers and police reports, recorded on specific dates. This cleverly makes the story seem factual. Read on >

  • Katherine Collette has created a slice of ordinary life in which to explore the complex dynamics of relationships, loneliness and community. There are wonderfully quirky characters and witty, entertaining accounts of working at a local council – think overzealous health and safety officers and office-wide disputes over biscuits in the tearoom. This little microcosm reflects the wider world in so many ways and, while The Helpline is a thoroughly enjoyable read, you might come away with a few important things to reflect on too. Read on >

  • Asymmetry is certainly one of the strangest books I’ve read recently, both in structure and content, but I believe these quirks made the story more interesting and unique. Asymmetry left me with three distinct and tangible perspectives on life and the importance art and beauty. Read on >

  • Saint Antony is a rewarding novel, unpacking ideas of humanity, philosophy and religion in a unique way. The deeper you get, the more Uhlmann draws you into his fascinating world. Read on >

  • So convincing is the life Murray has created for Cranmer and the paintings she describes, I found myself undertaking an online search to determine whether the artist was more than a fictional representation of generations of women whose lives have been narrowed by patriarchal privilege. Read on >

  • Set against the stormy background of the Spanish Civil War and the lead-up to the World War II, this outstanding and informative blend of true stories and fiction is one of the best books I’ve read this year.  It’s 1937, on the eve of World War II, and Spanish nationalist forces led by General Francisco Franco are in the final stages of preparing to raid Spain by the following year. Meanwhile, up-and-coming celebrity author Ernest Hemingway meets American journalist Martha Gellhorn in a bar in Key West in Florida. There is an immediate attraction between them. When Hemingway leaves to join one of the International Brigades in Spain, Gellhorn follows, catching up with him in Barcelona as Franco’s forces clash with Spanish Republicans. The pair cover the war together as journalists, and fall in love – despite Hemingway still being married to his first wife, Hadley Richardson (author Paula McLain wrote about this relationship in her 2011 novel, The Paris Wife). When Hemingway publishes his bestselling and critically lauded novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, based on the Civil War, his relationship with the highly ambitious Gellhorn, who’s working for the magazine Collier’s Weekly and is an aspiring novelist herself, begins to strain. Gellhorn is now regarded as one of the most important war correspondents of the time, who had a keen interest in the stories of the people affected by war rather than just the political machinations of conflict. Set against the stormy background of the Spanish Civil War and the lead-up to the World War II, this outstanding and informative blend of true stories and fiction is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Reviewed by Jean Ferguson   Read on >

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