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CHRISTOS TSIOLKAS’ new novel Damascus is a bold and controversial undertaking. In it, one of Australia’s most innovative storytellers unearths the brutal, awe-inspiring origins of the Christian church through the letters of St Paul the Apostle. EMMA HARVEY spoke to the award-winning author of The Slap and Barracuda about how his own religious journey led to one of the biggest books of his career.   
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Archive Discoveries

  • 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 >
  • 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 >
  • UK journalist and editor MARINA BENJAMIN looks at the joys, losses and opportunities of middle age in her new book, The Middlepause. In this extract she writes about the secret misogynistic history of HRT.   Read on >
  • I switched on to watch ABC TV’s The Drum one evening and discovered Jodi Picoult sitting on the panel discussion.What a great performer she is – not only an impressive writer but also an impressive speaker.The discussion at the table was raging around whether a white author has the right, or could even have the understanding, to write about black characters. As a white woman, how could she really know what’s it’s like to be a black woman, let alone a black man? How could she write black characters and make them authentic without knowing how they feel? 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 >
  • If you think of the German navy in World War II, then you probably conjure up images of grand-scale conflicts such as the Battle of the Atlantic or the Baltic Sea campaigns. But not so many people are aware that German ships were also on the prowl down in the South Pacific and in the Indian Ocean, where they disguised themselves as ordinary freighters before launching their deadly assaults on unsuspecting Allied craft. False Flags, a new account by Canberra author STEPHEN ROBINSON, tells the story of four German raiders, including the infamous attack by one of them, the Kormoran, on the HMAS Sydney in 1941. GRANT HANSEN reports. Read on >
  • Novelist and journalist MAGGIE ALDERSON spent her gap year as a ‘ferocious punk rocker’ working at an advertising agency and starting her own punk fanzine, for which she interviewed Bob Geldoff and Billy Idol. She went on to become the editor of Evening Standard and Elle in London. She also spent eight years in Australia as editor of Cleo and Mode, and covering fashion shows in Milan and Paris for The Sydney Morning Herald. Now back in the UK, Maggie has just released a new novel, The Scent of You. She tells us why reading fairy stories is good training for any writer, who her literary crush is, and why War and Peace is the most emotionally involving books she's ever read. Read on >
  • gr highlights cookbooks to buy for the discerning foodies in your life. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Thirteen-year-old gamer Beth loves fighting beasts and solving riddles in her favourite online game, Tordon. But she soon faces her own adventure when she and her gaming nemesis are sucked into a new adventure filled world where they have to fight for their own survival. Into Tordon is a collaborative novel by 9 authors, written under the pseudonym of Z F Kingbolt. Good Reading talks to Editor-in-Chief Zena Shapter about the collaborative writing process, gaming and the adventures in the real world that mimic those found on the screen. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • Like many young women with ambitious career plans, Bernadette Agius hadn’t exactly factored a child into her life plan when she fell pregnant. The usual anxieties of motherhood were only further compounded when, moments after giving birth, she was told that her newborn son, Richard, had Down syndrome. Read on >

  • Colin Thompson has written this story so subtly and emotionally. I’ve turned the pages many times to look at the incredibly sensitive, detailed and sometimes fun illustrations. Five stars is not enough for this book. It is a work of art. Read on >

  • This picture book is irresistible as it’s all written in verse with big, full-page real-life illustrations. And the story of this earthquake is added which helps to make the whole incredible story real. My problem is, how did those cows keep their balance? Read on >

  • The children will love this book as Diane Jackson Hill tells the story through a baby Shearwater called Hope. Hope has a little metal band on her leg so Ranger Phil and his team can track her flights. The beautiful illustrations by Craig Smith bring the whole remarkable story to life and we are left to wonder how these little birds find their way by just using their own instincts on the same day every year. Read on >

  • This book, with its exquisite illustrations, is an excellent introduction to Aboriginal people’s culture and language. Read on >

  • This is an insightful study of a family affected by mental illness and the effect would be similar no matter what the family’s ethnicity or cultural background. Of course, there are some permutations that are distinctive to people of Chinese heritage, and Wai Chim beautifully captures these in warm and sensitive ways. Read on >

  • This is a confronting and challenging story which describes the pain of growing up gay in a small, conservative small-town community. It doesn’t matter whether the reader is straight or gay; it gives an important insight in what it’s like to grow up ‘different’. There are some explicit sex scenes, which might shock some readers and which pushes the book into the much older teenage category. However, the characters are believable and one can’t help being moved by their tragic circumstances. Sheppard has given us a brave book which deserves attention. Read on >

  • This is a joyous romp, in which mayhem is piled upon mayhem and Tom, his family and friends, find themselves in all sorts of ridiculous situations. Reed’s illustrations add to the fun. It’s a story guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Read on >

  • Robertson skilfully synthesises the moral and legal aspects of this debate to make a fervent plea for the return of stolen treasures to their homelands, and also provides a legal framework for how museums and looted nations might approach reparations. Read this book and you’ll see some cultural institutions in a darker, bloody light. You’ll also hope that the stolen Marbles will soon find their way home to Athens. Read on >

  • These 28 Australian stories of summer, sun and swimming will stir many memories. Mine were of the municipal pool in my Far North Queensland hometown which hosted cane toads when it was emptied to just a puddle. And after having unkempt curly hair following early morning training in the pool, I stood in front of a mirror at home, wet my hair, then cut it so it looked good wet (and of course, looked vile when dry!) Read on >

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