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Veteran journalist and foreign correspondent CHRIS HAMMER hits shelves this month with his hotly anticipated debut crime-thriller novel, Scrublands. ANGUS DALTON asks the author about the moments in his career, from Texas to Gaza, that informed parts of his epic story. 
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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 >
  • 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 >
  • 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 >
  • FIONA CAPP is the internationally published, award-winning author of three works of non-fiction, including her memoir That Oceanic Feeling – which won the Kibble Award – and five novels, including Gotland, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Queensland Literary Awards. Fiona lives in Melbourne and works as a freelance writer and reviewer. Her latest novel, To Know My Crime, is a story of blackmail, risk, corruption, guilt and consequences set on the Mornington Peninsula. We asked Fiona to tell us about the books that have shaped her view of the world. Read on >
  • ARMANDO LUCAS CORREA is the Editor-in-Chief of People En Espanol,  the top-selling Hispanic magazine in the U.S. Here he writes of his personal connection to a group of Jewish refugees that departed from Hamburg, Germany in 1939 seeking refuge in Cuba. His novel The German Girl is a fictional account of the doomed voyage. 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 >
  • The stories of SUSAN PERABO have been likened to the work of George Saunders and Raymond Carver. Her latest novel, The Fall of Lisa Bellow, kicks off when school student Meredith is kidnapped together with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow. Meredith is set free – but Lisa remains. We asked Susan to tell us about short stories versus novels, her love of baseball and writing advice she has received. Read on >
  • After reading a few thrillers lately I got to thinking about writers in the crime and thriller genres and the research they need to do to make their books seem real. Research can be an exciting part of writing any book. Determining how a killer might think and how their victim could become entrapped is one thing, but I can’t imagine looking at dead people or reading detailed reports of the methods that serial killers use to stalk and murder their prey.That’s the sort of awful stuff police deal with and psychologically struggle with for the rest of their lives. But could even researching this sort of thing affect a writer?  Read on >
  • Alison Evans is a genderqueer writer, lover of bad movies, and co-founder of the zine Concrete Queers. Here Alison tells us about her new spec-fic novel, Ida, and non-binary identities in YA fiction. Read on >
  • When she’s not training her inquisitorial blowtorch on politicians and other people who have questions to answer, ABC reporter and presenter SARAH FERGUSON loves to delve into a book. Her new book, The Killing Season Uncut, recounts the behind-the-scenes tales of the television program about the tumultuous Rudd–Gillard years. We asked the multi-award winning Four Corners reporter to tell us about the books that have influenced her. Read on >
  • Find out about the inspiration behind the bestselling brilliance of Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project, his new novel The Best of Adam Sharp, and how he made a name for himself by dressing as a duck. 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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