Blessed are the booksellers, especially at this dastardly time of year, where the Christmas retail spirit leaches every echo of goodwill from your shopping laden pores. Consider them, hauling tonnes of books, displaying them beautifully, finding your perfect gift and wrapping until their fingers are shredded and paper stained. And smiling throughout. Blessed are the booksellers.
2016 has been a devastating riot for many, with the death of a lot of pop stars, and Bob Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It has also been a year of fantastic new books and new reading discoveries. Some quick highlights from me include a baptism by fire into the world of comics and graphic novels, notably JW Clennett’s alt history of Tasmania, The Diemenois, Lydia Davis, a US writer and translator whose short stories and novels astound me with their simplicity and weirdness is a new favourite writer and Roberto Calasso’s gorgeous little book The Art of Publishing touched and inspired me.
Personally I’ve met some excellent writers both in Tasmania and around the region and I look forward to continuing my work with writers from Iran, India, Tasmania and Burma in particular. There is some astonishing contemporary work coming from these areas. At Transportation Press, Tasmania’s newest publisher (and close to my heart, as I am Editor in Chief) we will be announcing two excellent projects early in the new year, but as a teaser; Of Wine and Words will riff off the ancient Persian connection between wine and poetry, and Smoke, an international microfiction competition, generously sponsored by FullersBookshop will be launched.
Around Tasmania in December, as the darling booksellers cower under piles of your Christmas shopping lists, a number of events are still going ahead.
On December 6 at Fullers in Hobart, Musquito, Brutality and Exile by Michael Powell will be launched by eminent historian Henry Reynolds at 5.30. Musquito, a legendary Aboriginal man was transported first to Norfolk Island then Van Diemen’s Land and became well known for organising against white settlers. He was hanged in his part in the murders at Grindstone Bay in 1825. This book offers excellent insight into Aboriginal resistance in NSW and Van Diemen’s Land. (pictured).
On December 14 also at Fullers Bookshop, Francesca Haig will be chatting with me about the second novel in her Fire Sermon trilogy. These books are richly imagined and action packed post-apocalyptic thrillers. Kirkus Review said of the first two that they “poised to become the next must-read hit”. I’m looking forward to this, especially in the face of the burgeoning new genre ‘CliFi’ – climate change fiction, generally post apocalyptic. Other notables in this genre include Clade by James Bradley, The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau and Briohny Doyle’s wicked The Island Will Sink.
On December 15, again at Fullers, the 2nd edition of The Abels, Tasmania’s finest mountains, each over 1100m high. Hear from the crack team of bushwalkers that has bagged every peak as they give a studied portrayal of each mountain. Learn the best routes to take, how and when to take them, and find intricate notes on mountain nomenclature and history.
Some excellent news from Island, one of Australia’s leading lit mags. Not only was their Poetry Editor, Sarah Holland-Batt, listed as a finalist for her poetry collection The Hazards (UQP 2015), she won. As well, David Ireland’s The World Repair Video Game, published in Island in serial form and subsequently published by Island as a limited-edition hardback, was short listed as a finalist in the Fiction category.
Tasmania’sbiggest and most recognised publisher, Forty South have some new books out, Shadows in Suriname by Margaretta Pos tells her family’s history in Suriname. Anne Blythe-Cooper was runner up in the Erica Bell Manuscript Prize and this has manifested as The Shape of Water, a fictionalised account of Sophia Degraves, the wife of the same Degraves who started Cascade Brewery and was responsible for Australia’s olden theatre, The Theatre Royal in Hobart. They have also just released a new book by Adele Ogier Jones called The Coffee Palace.
A new book, Big Stake by SJ Brown, the third in the DI Mahoney series is out. It is a cop drama set in Hobart. This book turns the spotlight on the damage inflicted by the prevalence of gambling in modern Australia.
Blessed are the booksellers and consider them, sweating under the stench of desperation and sticky tape. I wish you all beautiful summers of reading, learning and yarning.
If you have any book news contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org