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ALICE HOFFMAN is the author of more than 30 works of fiction. With the release of her new book, Magic Lessons, she returns to the world of her ‘Practical Magic’ series. gr caught up with her to ask what she’s reading at the moment and find out why magical realism is so appealing.

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Archive Discoveries

  • JIM OBERGEFELL led a class action in the US Supreme Court that established marriage equality nationwide for Americans. Love Wins, co-written with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist DEBBIE CENZIPER, is the story of the love that inspired the fight for justice. ANGUS DALTON reports. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Ed Yong – science reporter for The Atlantic and blogger for National Geographic – has just published his first book, I Contain Multitudes: The microbes within us and a grander view of life. We asked him to tell us about his reading life.   What are you
reading now?
 Patient H.M. by 
Luke Dittrich, because 
my editor for my own 
book sent me a galley
 copy! I’m glad she
 did. Henry Molaison 
was arguably the most
influential patient in
all of neuroscience.
 After an operation to
cure his epilepsy, he lost the ability to form new memories – think Memento – and so taught us much about how our memories work. Dittrich is the grandson of the surgeon who operated on Molaison, and he brings a deeply personal flavor to the incisive reporting and colourful writing that characterise this book. What are your three favourite books?
 The Song of the Dodo: Island biogeography in the age of extinctions by David Quammen is natural history writing at its finest – a witty, insightful tour of the planet’s islands and what they tell us about our increasingly fragmented world. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell offers genre-hopping stories but delivers a deep fable about hope and nihilism; I stared silently out a window for the longest time when I finished 
it. Being Wrong: Adventures in the margin of error by Kathryn Schulz is a wondrous study of human error that blends literature, science and philosophy. Read on >
  • In the early 1900s, the luminescent properties of radium – a highly radioactive metal – had just been discovered, and entrepreneurs were quick to identify its marketing potential. They flooded supermarket shelves with radium-based products, and thousands of young women in North America were hired to paint clock dials with radium. The girls would go home with their hands aglow, oblivious to the bone-destroying radiation they had been exposed to. We spoke with London-based author KATE MOORE about these workers’ stories, which appear in her new book, The Radium Girls. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • 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 >
  • American author and hairdresser DEBORAH RODRIGUEZ lived in the Afghan capital of Kabul for five years, and in that time she founded her own beauty salon and coffee shop. On her return to the US, she wrote a bestselling novel based on the bustling cafe, and now she’s taking us back to Afghanistan in Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul. ANGUS DALTON reports. Read on >
  • Stretching across generations and set on the Atherton Tablelands where she lives, the latest novel from prolific Australian author BARBARA HANNAY is a saga of loss, love, secrets and salvation. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN 
about her writing life, and how The Grazier's Wife evolved.   Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • While Simpson deals with very raw and real issues in her novel, there is still a tenderness throughout her work which is illustrated through her references to cultural traditions, spirits, and through interspersing Indigenous language. This was a beautifully written and moving novel. Read on >

  • Each of these stories is a sweet snack – a jalebi for instance – and combine as a whole to give a radiance to the daily life of the (monetarily) poor in Mumbai. They were written from the 1980s to 2000s but without the attendant dates, you might not realise that. So little changes over time. With the sublime nature of these stories, it makes you wonder what else you might be missing out on with English as a mother tongue. Read on >

  • This book returns Ferrante’s readers to the world of Naples and teenage girls. She is brilliant at evoking the pain and beauty of adolescence. Giovanna is moody, rebellious, sullen, learning about sex and desire, loving and hating her friends, discovering her parents are infallible and all the while shaping herself into the woman she will become. This is a similar world to that of Ferrante’s ‘Neapolitan Quartet’, yet this story feels fresh and new. Read on >

  • This quietly cerebral, emotional and atmospheric story is a gift of hope at a time when so many are struggling with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Read on >

  • This thought-provoking novel uses Egyptian history and archaeology, quantum physics, parallel universes and philosophy to examine questions of life, death, love, loss, choices and missed opportunities. A fascinating and profound read. Read on >

  • Graham Norton’s third novel is full of surprises. There are a confusing number of names and relatives in the first few chapters but the narrative soon settles down as we accompany Connor in his search for identity. Straight and gay characters interweave; shame and sadness give way to pride and contentment; and loneliness and longing are conquered. A thoughtful, accomplished saga of a community in crisis and the power of resilience. Read on >

  • Donald Trump goes to Florida Disneyworld to inspect the animatronic figure the Imagineers make for the Hall of Presidents attraction. He’s so impressed he orders them to make another for his personal amusement, and he feels so close to it they end up sleeping together, all while he protests he’s not gay. And that’s not even the weirdest idea in screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s novel. Not everyone will respond to the way Kaufman’s mind works and the way he expresses himself, but you might just find yourself on board and swept along despite your suspicions. Read on >

  • This is a really interesting book; a musical novel in composition and emotional intent. It’s an ambitious novel and, much like a complex jazz album, through tone and texture it tells a story that ends up being far more than the sum of its parts. Read on >

  • It’s about a woman – a millennial in her 30s – at a crossroads in her life. While those around her are marrying and having children, she doesn’t want to have kids. Read on >

  • This is an intriguing mystery, but a deeper layer is added by the well-drawn characters and their relationships. In a small town where everyone knows each other, suspicions are easily aroused. We care as much about what happens to the characters as we do about solving the crime. Like in her previous books, the setting is so strong that it’s almost a character in itself. For fans like me, a new Harper book is a treat and this is another cracking read. Read on >

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