I’ve read some books by Australian Women Writers this year, but have not reviewed any of them here on the blog, although I have talked about them on the Book Cougars Podcast.
This post is a bit of a catch-up before I dig an even deeper review hole for myself because I’d like to read at least one more work by an AWW before the end of the year. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay is at the top of my To Be Read pile.
Back in December 2016 in my signup post for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017, I said I’d read four books by Australian Woman Writers. I’m happy to report that I have read four books — two that I hadn’t planned on and two that I had.
What I haven’t been very successful at this year is actually writing reviews on these books, which is, technically, part of the official challenge. One of the reasons for this is that I’ve been figuring out how to juggle both a blog and a podcast. I’m now a year into podcasting and this seems to be sorting itself out (in my mind, anyway).
These are the books by Australian Women Writers that I’ve read so far this year:
The Strays by Emily Bitto. This was the first read of the year for me and it kicked off 2017 in a good way. This is the story of a young girl in the 1930s who comes from a quiet, well-regulated, rather isolated home. She is befriended by a girl at school who comes from the exact opposite sort of family — loud, unpredictable, and full of adults coming and going as the parents are a very different sort — the mother comes from wealth and the father is an avant garde painter with a growing national reputation. It’s a story of friendship, family, love, neglect, and finding one’s own way. Or not. (I talked about this book on Episode 5 of the Book Cougars).
Too Afraid To Cry by Ali Cobby Eckermann. I was browsing around the Yale Bookstore one day and came upon a display of books for the (then) upcoming Windham-Campbell Prizes. Too Afraid To Cry caught my eye and I was immediately drawn into the story. Eckermann is an Aboriginal Australian and this prose memoir reflects her talent as a poet. This is the painful story of Eckermann’s life as one of those caught in the horror of the Stolen Generations of Australia. Eckermann was taken as a baby from her mother and given to a white family as part of the government’s misguided effort to “assimilate” Aboriginal people. In turn, Eckermann’s son is taken from her. This very personal story reflects the national trauma inflicted upon thousands of lives. It was fantastic to hear Eckermann speak at the Windham-Campbell panel I attended at Yale in September. (Discussed on Book Cougars Episode 28).
And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic. This is book #2 in Viskic’s Caleb Zelic mystery series. I loved the first book, Resurrection Bay, and got my hands on a copy of And Fire Came Down as soon as I could. Caleb is an insurance investigator who is deaf. This book starts off with a woman who is murdered while trying to meet with Caleb. The story takes Caleb back to his hometown where his newly clean and sober brother is living in the family home with his new girlfriend. His estranged wife and fierce mother-in-law, who are part of the aboriginal community, also live in the hometown and so Caleb’s personal life becomes intwined with this investigation that involves trees, hate crimes, and drugs. Caleb has become one of my favorite sleuths. I like his tenacity as an investigator and his stubbornness and heart as a human. (Discussed on Book Cougars Episode 30).
The Dry by Jane Harper. I bought this book early on in the year and didn’t read it until this month. Wow! What a great read! And another Australian mystery writer to add to my must read list. This is the first book in Harper’s Aaron Falk series. Aaron is a financial investigator with the national police. The book opens with him going to the funeral of his childhood best friend — a man accused of murdering his wife and son before killing himself, but sparing his infant daughter. The murdered man’s parents ask Aaron to look into things as the local police have ruled this a clear case of murder/suicide. Aaron himself isn’t welcome back in his hometown due to a death that happened when he was in high school. Tensions are high in this farming community from a two year drought and getting higher as Aaron’s investigation opens up the possibility of a set up. Reese Witherspoon is developing this story into a movie. (Discussed on Book Cougars Episode 33).
What are you favorite books by Australian Women Writers? Please share in the comments! I’d like to expand my bibliography for this reading focus.