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This beautifully crafted book, continually referring to the bees as a symbol of vulnerability, life and hope, creates more empathy in me for asylum seekers than any media or news bulletin. The constant memory of the bees, images of his homeland and his care for Afra, make Nuri courageous and persistent. Through Lefteri’s sensitive, vivid descriptions, I experience the contrast between broken and unbroken worlds, the coldness of bureaucracy, and the different responses of people to trauma.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • From an investigation into the scandals of the Catholic Church by Tom Keneally to Jeffrey Archer’s thrilling last instalment in the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ series or a tale of a shrewd female locksmith in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, these books will delight you over the long, languid days of summer. Read on >
  • We talk with PATRICK HOLLAND, a longlist nominee for the 2011 Miles Franklin Award for his novel The Mary Smokes Boys, about his new novel, One, which tells the story of the real-life Kenniff brothers. These two late-19th-century Queenslanders were Australia’s last bushrangers, and vPatrick questions the extent of their supposed villainy. Read on >
  • It’s 100 years since
 Roald Dahl’s birth on 13 September 1916. For many years now, 13 September has been celebrated as Roald Dahl Day.  I love all of Roald Dahl’s books. I love the naughty antics his characters get up to in so many of his stories. I love reading about the fascinating life he led – especially his wartime flying exploits – and I really loved how he made the nasty grandmother in George’s Marvellous Medicine just go ‘pop’ and disappear. I think we all have someone in our life we’d like that to happen to occasionally. If you are yet to read his memoirs – Boy and Going Solo – I can’t recommend them highly enough. 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 >
  • SABRINA HAHN has been WA’s go-to dispenser of green-thumb advice to radio listeners for more than 20 years. Now, in Sabrina’s Dirty Deeds, she shows you what to do in your garden and when to do it. In this extract she outlines how to encourage good predatory insects. 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 >
  • Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has inspired all kinds of fan fiction and adaptations, such as the 1966 prequel Wide Sargasso Sea. But in this new novel by Sydney resident JENNIFER LIVETT, the lives of Jane Eyre characters become entwined with those of real 19th-century Tasmanians, including doomed Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin. Here Jennifer tells us how she came up with the idea for Wild Island. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Most of us think of Australia as a sunny land filled with straightforward, open and candid people. But in ANNA ROMER’s version of the country, it’s a place filled with secrets and people who will do anything to keep them concealed. She talks with ALEX HENDERSON about her new book, Beyond the Orchard, Victoria’s haunted Otway Coast and the power of fear. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This beautifully crafted book, continually referring to the bees as a symbol of vulnerability, life and hope, creates more empathy in me for asylum seekers than any media or news bulletin. The constant memory of the bees, images of his homeland and his care for Afra, make Nuri courageous and persistent. Through Lefteri’s sensitive, vivid descriptions, I experience the contrast between broken and unbroken worlds, the coldness of bureaucracy, and the different responses of people to trauma. Read on >

  • Atkinson weaves together several sets of characters who are involved in apparently separate investigations – which all turn out to be closely connected to a criminal ring exploiting the hopes and dreams of young migrant girls who believe they are coming to England for a job in hospitality, but soon find themselves sex slaves. Read on >

  • McEwan’s writing is superb and the storyline intriguing. I did find a couple of the premises he sets up for his characters a bit of a stretch, but we are talking an alternate reality here, so I was happy to let them go and just enjoy the ride. I can see this book starting many a spirited book club debate. Read on >

  • The Carer is divided into three parts. The first is annoyingly repetitive as chapters are given to Phoebe and then to Robert to describe developments. I continued turning the pages, however, and am pleased I did. Parts two and three provide revelations that surprised and rewarded me. Read on >

  • The Braid kept me engaged right through, and delivered an unexpected ending. It is a sweet, uplifting book that communicates a simple message about women’s resilience. I can see The Braid becoming a book club staple. Read on >

  • This is a novel for someone who loves a sweeping Australian drama with romance and hardship thrown in. Read on >

  • This is a novel that breaks the rules. It’s both serious and hilarious. I found it fun, enlightening and thought-provoking even though I didn’t always understand Abdullah’s contemplation of his place in the world. Read on >

  • Are children really a blessing? This novel explores that question through two women, one the mother of an autistic son and the other a career-driven lawyer who has left it almost too late to have a baby. There’s a happy, optimistic ending, despite all the loss, so maybe that’s the ultimate message in this novel. Read on >

  • Disappearing Earth had me by the throat to start but didn’t maintain enough of that momentum to keep me totally engaged. Each of the following chapters focuses on the next 12 months after the girls’ disappearance, with each chapter introducing us to new characters. This pace slows considerably, the initial mystery fading into the periphery as we are introduced to different women in the village. I found it difficult to be connected to new characters, and some confusion began to slip in. I wanted each new character to have more of a connection to the disappearance as well. Read on >

  • Like the bending of light when it passes through glass, The Happiness Glass acknowledges the distortion and elusiveness of memory and, in doing so, captures a harrowing and heartfelt emotional truth so recognisable, it stings. I wish it had been longer. Read on >

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