'This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life. From one of Australia's most loved novelists.
'He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home.
'It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children's Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond.
'The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs, love and desire, music, death, and poetry. Where children must learn that they are alone, even within their families.
'Written in Joan London's customary clear-eyed prose, The Golden Age evokes a time past and a yearning for deep connection. It is a rare and precious gem of a book from one of Australia's finest novelists. ' (Publication summary)
'Fever of Animals is the story of Miles, an Australian man who is no longer an artist, and his two life-changing journeys: a holiday to Venice that ultimately costs him his girlfriend, Alice, and a trip to Europe, on the trail of the Romanian surrealist painter Emil Bafdescu, who disappeared in 1967. Dense and moody, this is a layered story about one man’s lack of self-knowledge, and about the people, places and memories that slip through his fingers.' (Publication summary)
'A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.
'August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.
'This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.' (Publisher's blurb)
'A mesmerising literary novel, Questions of Travel charts two very different lives. Laura travels the world before returning to Sydney, where she works for a publisher of travel guides. Ravi dreams of being a tourist until he is driven from Sri Lanka by devastating events.
'Around these two superbly drawn characters, a double narrative assembles an enthralling array of people, places and stories - from Theo, whose life plays out in the long shadow of the past, to Hana, an Ethiopian woman determined to reinvent herself in Australia.
'Award-winning author Michelle de Kretser illuminates travel, work and modern dreams in this brilliant evocation of the way we live now. Wonderfully written, Questions of Travel is an extraordinary work of imagination - a transformative, very funny and intensely moving novel.' (From the publisher's website.)
'Anna Funder's utterly compelling first novel All That I Am is about the heroic and largely tragic fate of a small group of left-wing German activists who opposed the rise of Hitler. It centres on two real people: the playwright Ernst Toller (famously eulogized by his friend W H Auden), and one of his associates, Ruth Koplowitz. Ruth was also a friend of Toller, and came to live in Sydney after WW2, where Anna got to know her well in later life. Their lives were tied together by the charismatic, passionate Dora - All That I Am vividly, passionately and irresistibly brings back to life their struggles, their hopes, their fears and their fates.'
Source: Penguin News, 6 October 2010
Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.
'The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.
'But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...' (From the publisher's website.)
'Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.
'Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it's here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.
'And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.' (Publisher's blurb)joint winner with Summertime by J. M. Coetzee.
'A young English biographer is working on a book about the late writer, John Coetzee. He plans to focus on the years from 1972 - 1977 when Coetzee, in his thirties, is sharing a run-down cottage in the suburbs of Cape Town with his widowed father. This, the biographer senses, is the period when he was finding his feet as a writer. Never having met Coetzee, he embarks on a series of interviews with people who were important to him: a married woman with whom he had an affair, his favourite cousin Margot, a Brazilian dancer whose daughter had English lessons with him, former friends and colleagues. From their testimony emerges a portrait of the young Coetzee as an awkward, bookish individual with little talent for opening himself to others. Within the family he is regarded as an outsider, someone who tried to flee the tribe and has now returned, chastened. His insistence on doing manual work, his long hair and beard, rumours that he writes poetry evoke nothing but suspicion in the South Africa of the time.
Sometimes heartbreaking, often very funny, Summertime shows us a great writer as he limbers up for his task. It completes the majestic trilogy of fictionalised memoir begun with Boyhood and Youth.' (Provided by the publisher.)joint winner with Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.
'It is 1839. A young Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, is running through the long wet grass of an island at the end of the world to get help for her dying father, an Aboriginal chieftain. Twenty years later, on an island at the centre of the world, the most famous novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, realises he is about to abandon his wife, risk his name, and forever after be altered because of his inability any longer to control his intense passion.
'Connecting the two events are the most celebrated explorer of the age, Sir John Franklin - then governor of Van Diemen's Land - and his wife, Lady Jane, who adopt Mathinna, seen as one of the last of a dying race, as an experiment. Lady Jane believes the distance between savagery and civilisation is the learned capacity to control wanting. The experiment fails, the Franklins throw the child onto the streets and into a life of prostitution and alcoholism. A few years later Mathinna is found dead in a puddle. She is nineteen years old. By then Sir John too is dead, lost in the blue ice of the Arctic seeking the North West Passage. A decade later evidence emerges that in its final agony, Franklin's expedition resorted to the level and practice of savages: cannibalism. Lady Jane enlists Dickens's aid to put an end to such scandalous suggestions.
'Dickens becomes ever more entranced in the story of men entombed in ice, recognising in its terrible image his own frozen inner life. He produces and stars in a play inspired by Franklin's fate to give story to his central belief: that discipline and will can conquer desire. And yet the play will bring him to the point where he is finally no longer able to control his own wanting and the consequences it brings.
'Based on historic events, Wanting is a novel about art, love, and the way in which life is finally determined never by reason, but only ever by wanting.' (Provided by publisher.)
'It is 1934, the Great War is long over and the next is yet to come. It is a brief time of optimism and advancement.
'Billowing dust and information, the government 'Better Farming Train' slides through the wheat fields and small towns of Australia, bringing city experts and advice to those already living on the land. The train is on a crusade to persuade the country that science holds the answers and that productivity is patriotic.
'Amongst the swaying cars full of cows, pigs and wheat, an unlikely seduction occurs between Robert Pettergree, a man with an unusual taste for soil, and Jean Finnegan, a talented young seamstress with a hunger for knowledge. In an atmosphere of heady scientific idealism they settle in the impoverished Mallee with the ambition of proving that science can transform the land.
'With failing crops and the threat of a new World War looming, Robert and Jean are forced to confront each other, the community they have destroyed, and the impact of progress on an ancient and fragile landscape.
'Erotically charged, and shot through with humour and a quiet wisdom, this haunting first novel evokes the Australian landscape in all its stark beauty and vividly captures the hope and disappointment of an era.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'Sixty Lights is the captivating chronicle of Lucy Strange, an independent girl growing up in the Victorian world. From her childhood in Australia through to her adolescence in England and Bombay and finally to London, Lucy is fascinated by light and by the new photographic technology. Her perception of the world is passionate and moving, revealed in a series of frozen images captured in the camera of her mind's eye showing her feelings about love, life and loss. In this confident, finely woven and intricate novel Jones has created an unforgettable character in Lucy; visionary, gifted and exuberant, she touches the lives of all who know her.' (Publication summary)
"Eleven year-old Floaty-boy (so named because of his passion for body-surfing and peculiar talent for buoyancy) inhabits a murky, watery world of wagging school and illicit night surfing. He hovers on the edge of things; he is in between not boy or man and inhabits liminal spaces: the edge of the ocean when he body-surfs and the edges of a family that seems to be spinning out of control. Vulnerable, Floaty-boy is as prey to his altered dream-like perceptions of the world as he is to the sharks that cruise in the other world of down below. At the centre of Floaty-boy's universe is Adelaide - mother, wife, surfer and breadwinner who holds not only her own family together but the knockabout Cronies of her larrikin husband, the Old Man. Yet when her eldest son, Eddie, disappears, her family's world threatens to fall apart; her centre may not hold and Floaty-boy has to find a way to cope."
'Victoria Morrell was once a great artist. She led the high life - living and working in Paris, mixing with the artists of the Surrealist movement. Her work was largely forgotten in the fifties and sixties, but was rediscovered in the seventies when she became something of a cult figure on the London art scene. She now lives as a recluse in Hampstead, London. And she is dying.
'Anna Griffin is the young woman commissioned to write a biography of Victoria's life. In many ways their lives strangely intersect, since they grew up in the same mining town and share preoccupations with underground spaces, deserts and the many forms of grief.
'In a compelling double narrative, Gail Jones tracks Victoria's past as it intertwines with Anna's life. The stories Victoria tells enable both women to enter into new forms of sympathy and understanding.
'Elegant, enthralling, and emotionally charged, Black Mirror is both a novel of love and family mystery, and a meditation on the nature of artistic vision and obsession.' (Publication summary)
'Georgie Jutland is a mess. At forty, with her career in ruins, she finds herself stranded in White Point with a fisherman she doesn't love and two kids whose dead mother she can never replace. Her days have fallen into domestic tedium and social isolation. Her nights are a blur of vodka and pointless loitering in cyberspace. Leached of all confidence, Georgie has lost her way; she barely recognises herself.
'One morning, in the boozy pre-dawn gloom, she looks up from the computer screen to see a shadow lurking on the beach below, and a dangerous new element enters her life. Luther Fox, the local poacher. Jinx. Outcast...' (From the publisher's website.)
'In the warm alkaline waters of the public bath, a naive and headstrong young engineer accidentally collides with a breathtaking actress. From this innocent collision of flesh begins a passion that will take them from the Wiltshire Downs to the mythical source of life in Africa - and to the most elemental choices of life and death in the Australian desert.
'While the intense love story of William Dance and Angelica Lloyd is at the heart of The Drowner, it is but a part of the daring story that unfolds. By irresistibly mingling history, myth and technology with a modern cinematic and poetic imagination, Robert Drewe has reached beyond the traditions of the romance and annexed new territory.
'Such is the grand scale and original texture of The Drowner that it is at once a fable of European ambitions in an alien landscape, a magnificently sustained metaphor of water as the life and death force and, above all, an intimate and ambitious portrayal - of great resonance and haunting sensuality - of the essence of the differences between men and women.
'Lyrical and astringent, vibrant and tender, The Drowner has all the mysterious powers of a dream. Robert Drewe's seventh work of fiction shows an author at the peak of his powers demonstrating the full vigour of his artistic vision.' (Publication summary)
'In her first novel Simone Lazaroo describes the experiences of the Dias family (a Eurasian father from Malacca, Australian mother and twin three year old daughters) as they take up a new life in Australia.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.