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Seasoned festival attendee BOB MOORE writes about the blossoming of writers’ and readers’ festivals of all stripes in Australia, investigates what makes a memorable author session, gathers festival-going tips and breaks down the Big Five of festival guests.
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Archive Discoveries

  • 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 >
  • The BBC released a survey earlier this year in which they asked readers to name the books they had lied about having read. You can see the list below. I think I have read around half, as some I may have read in my youth that I’ve forgotten about (more about that later). How many of them have you read? The truth, please! 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 an officious woman named Constance Kopp. This discovery catalysed her historical crime-fiction series, set in New Jersey in 1915, based on Constance and her two sisters. As the second instalment in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is released, ANGUS DALTON finds out more. Read on >
  • This book might have the word ‘tax’ in its title, but don’t let that dreary term fool you. The Great Multinational Tax Rort tells the intriguing tale of how, for decades, multinational corporations have been slithering out of their obligations to pay their fair share of tax, leaving governments with shrinking funds to pay for essential services for their citizens. In this extract, MARTIN FEIL, also the author of The Failure of Free-Market Economics, outlines some of the techniques these business behemoths use to cunningly avoid paying tax – leaving us all the poorer. Read on >
  • Born in London, retired doctor TONY ATKINSON spent the first years of his life in a cage dangling out of a window. But he went on to serve the Queen and Winston Churchill during his early career as a footman and waiter, which he recalls in hilarious stories in he memoir, A Prescribed Life. Read on >
  • PEPPER HARDING is the pen name of a writer from San Francisco. The Heart of Henry Quantum, Pepper’s new novel, follows a scatterbrained husband’s erratic journey through the streets of San Francisco as he hunts down his wife’s Christmas present – a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Along the way he runs into his former lover, Daisy. We asked the author about his new novel and the eccentric thought journeys that appears throughout its pages. Read on >
  • The changing moral code and shift in gender roes of World War II provide the backdrop for JENNIFER RYAN's debut novel The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN about the people and events that inspired the story. Read on >
  • RICHARD ROXBURGH has been extraordinarily versatile over the
decades of his acting career. The Albury-born actor has played both Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, appeared as Count Dracula in the 2004 movie Van Helsing and played the lead role in Rake, a TV show he co-created. But he’s just as talented
on the page as he is on screen and stage; Roxburgh has written and illustrated a new kids’ book, Artie and the Grime Wave. We asked him about his influences and what lead him to this new project. Read on >
  • Real-life historical figures and 18th-century court cases dealing with adultery inspired one of two interwoven storylines in The Wife’s Tale, a new novel by Australian author CHRISTINE WELLS. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN how the true events from the past inform her tale of scandal, intrigue, murder – and love.  Read on >
  • The jazz era of the 1920s in America was
 filled with exuberant music, fast cars and young men and women determined to have a good time. But at the same time in working-class Far North Queensland, life wasn’t lived at quite the same level of opulence.
In a new novel, Treading Air, Queensland author ARIELLA VAN LUYN uses fiction to investigate the life of a real young woman from Townsville named Lizzie O’Dea, who shot another woman in 1924. Read on >
  • gr highlights cookbooks to buy for the discerning foodies in your life. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • Chinonso, a poor Nigerian poultry farmer, sees a woman ready to jump off a bridge into the river. He begs her not to, but when she resists him, he rushes two of his prized birds from his car, and throws them in to the river. As they struggle and sink, his sacrifice changes her mind. I cannot do justice in words to the depth of wisdom and mythical imagery Obioma constructs in this Booker-shortlisted novel. Read on >

  • In 1830, Washington Black is an 11-year-old slave on a plantation in Barbados; he is fated to live out his life in misery and torment, his value that of his sweat in the sugarcane fields. But all that changes when he is selected by the brother of the plantation owner, the eccentric and sensitive Titch, who needs a young man of Washington’s weight and temperament to assist him with his scientific observations and experiments surrounding his pursuit of the perfect aerial machine. Washington Black was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and is a fine novel, for all it is missing is that spark of greatness. Read on >

  • We Must Be Brave is a story of the many different kinds of love, loyalty and devotion, and how our experiences in life make us who we are, particularly in times of unspeakable horror. Read on >

  • It’s not often you get a story told from the perspective of a dog and, more remarkably, a dog that lives in a refugee camp. Yet Mutt’s narrative is possibly one of the less unusual aspects of Mohammed Hanif ’s Red Birds, which combines observations about US foreign policy with the lived experiences of those caught up in its international power struggles. Read on >

  • In for a Pound is set in a world of the ’70s drug scene in Sydney, Darwin and South East Asia’s Golden Triangle, where local drug dealers have kidnapped and are holding Sam Leach’s close friend. Sam’s difficult upbringing, with a father who was a gangster, has led her into becoming a drug dealer, with associates smuggling drugs in from Burma. It’s a dangerous endeavor but it earns her a lot of fast money. Read on >

  • This is a fine, entertaining novel, where the characters keep pace with the tumultuous growth of the century. It is worth reading for the Costume Ball alone; it’s a fine lesson in how to get what you want. Read on >

  • The Children’s House is a rather slow-moving novel, but the writing is lovely. It is the story of family and the connections that we make along the way, that make a difference to us whether we realise it at the time or not. And it is a story of the fierce love we can feel for a small child that is not out own, but that we desperately wish to offer a better life. Read on >

  • This is such a fun book. The repetition is delightful and the beautiful soft illustrations will speak to us all. I can imagine the little children listening to this story and joining in with their chick chick, moo moo and squark squark (that’s the cocky wanting more chocolate) and all the other wonderful noises that farm animals make. Try it on your littlies at home. Read on >

  • This is one of those delightful little books that young children fall in love with. Written in rhyme and illustrated in such a beautiful old-fashioned way, it features the five most gorgeous French mice who love fashion and food and hopefully will be clever enough to help Queen Julie out of her dilemma. Read on >

  • Rosie and George live together. George makes breakfast for Rosie every morning and then they go for a walk. Rosie loves walking as sometimes she’s a little lonely at home and she loves chasing squirrels even though she never catches them.This celebrated author, Kate DiCamillo, has told this story perfectly, and Harry Bliss’s incredibly life-like illustrations speak to us, adding the small but important details that we might miss if we don’t take the time to linger on every page. Read on >

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