In this singular year when many people have said they had more time for reading than ever before, I haven’t. But oh, how I have enjoyed the books I have read—books that have taken me places I’ve never been (in a year when no-one is going anywhere), opened my eyes to the wrongs of both past and present, made me think, made me cry.
Excluding books read entirely for research—and there have been many of those—I’ve read 24 books. Of those, 22 were by Australian writers, 17 by women writers and 7 by Indigenous writers. Only three of those unrelated to research were non-fiction, and there was one verse novel among the many novels.
Favourites? Well, it’s been a stellar bunch this year, and I find myself resisting any hierarchical ordering, but I’ll just mention a few.
Tara June Winch’s Miles Franklin–winning The Yield has made many readers’ favourites lists this year, and with good reason. This beautiful novel is equally a work of history, and I hope it will become mandatory reading for all young people. I also loved Mirandi Riwoe’s Stone Sky Gold Mountain, which won the inaugural ARA Historical Prize, and Ally Cobby Eckerman’s verse novel Ruby Moonlight hit me in the heart. And my most recent read, Jamaican writer Alecia McKenzie’s new novel, A Million Aunties, was one of the year’s stand-outs: deeply moving, engrossing and a joy to read.
During the year I also featured the following new works in the ‘2, 2 and 2’ series, in which authors talk about (among other things) their inspirations and the connections of their work to place:
- David Whish-Wilson, Shore Leave (Fremantle Press), novel (crime)
- Monique Mulligan, Wherever You Go (Pilyara Press), novel
- Kirsten Krauth, Almost a Mirror (Transit Lounge), novel
- Jon Doust, Return Ticket (Fremantle Press), novel
- Donna Ward, She I Dare Not Name (Allen & Unwin), memoir
- Catherine Noske, The Salt Madonna (Picador), novel
- Donna Mazza, Fauna (Allen & Unwin), novel
Thank you to all these authors for sharing their thoughts and insights.
And so to 2021. I’m going to be spending most of my time in my backyard studio, surrounded by photos and maps and boxes of research, hard at work on my new novel. But I’ll come up for air from time to time. I have a new interview series coming on looking up/looking down and look forward to introducing some exciting new works of literary fiction.
Until then, thank you for all the messages and comments during the year, and I wish you a happy, more peaceful, perhaps less eventful New Year.