As another year draws to a close, we thought we would look back on some of our reviewers’ top picks from 2012. From selkies to family dramas, YA adventures and beautiful picture books, there was something for everyone in Australian books this year.
In our Summer 2011/2012 issue, reviewer Amelia Vahtrick gave Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts (A&U) five stars, describing Lanagan’s prose as ‘hauntingly beautiful [and] darkly atmospheric’. ‘The book would be appropriate for sophisticated teen readers, as well as adults in search of beautiful prose,’ wrote Vahtrick.
In February/March, our reviewers picked out Patrick White’s The Hanging Garden (Vintage)—‘a Patrick White novel we can all read with pleasure’—M L Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans (Vintage)—‘fascinating and so beautifully told’—and Gerald Murnane’s A History of Books (Giramondo)—‘there is no greater living Australian writer’—as their top picks.
In April/May, The Forrests by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury) received five stars from reviewer Angela Meyer, who described the book as ‘a work of art as well as a successful narrative’. ‘It is nuanced, compelling and a treat for the mind, senses and emotions,’ wrote Meyer. In Junior, two Jackie French books—Pennies for Hitler and Dingo: The Dog Who Conquered a Continent (both HarperCollins)—received five-star reviews.
Our June/July issue featured a whopping six five-star reviews: Nine Days by Toni Jordan (Text), The Oldest Song in the World by Sue Woolfe (Fourth Estate), Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East by Benjamin Law (Black Inc.), City by James Roy (UQP), Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield (Text) and Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle (A&U).
In August/September, Lily Brett’s Lola Bensky (Hamish Hamilton) received five stars from reviewer Pip Newling. Newling described Brett’s book as ‘an entertaining story that is also full of heart’ which ‘should appeal to a wide readership’. In Junior, our reviewers’ top picks included Little Elephants by Graeme Base (Viking), Tree: A Little Story about Big Things by Danny Parker & Matt Ottley (Little Hare) and The Crystal Code: The Billionaire Series Book Four by Richard Newsome (Text).
And finally, in our October/November issue, reviewer Portia Lindsay gave five stars to The 2013 Voiceless Anthology (selected by J M Coetzee, Ondine Sherman, Wendy Were & Susan Wyndham, A&U). Lindsay described the anthology as ‘an important collection of writing’ and urged readers to ‘be challenged’ to consider their own relationships with animals. In Junior, reviewer Hilary Adams was particularly taken with Cuckoo! by Fiona Roberton (Viking). ‘Fiona Roberton has triumphed again in writing a story about finding that special someone who understands us perfectly,’ wrote Adams.
What were your favourite Australian titles for 2012? Let us know in the comments.