From book to film: what’s coming in the second half of 2015?

From the classics Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy) and Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) to more recent titles such as Paper Towns (John Green, HarperCollins) and The Dressmaker (Rosalie Ham, Duffy & Snellgrove), Erika Lucciola rounds up the book-to-film adaptations coming to Australian cinemas in the second half of 2015.

After three previous adaptations, Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd is coming back to the big screen under the direction of Thomas Vinterberg. Adapted by author David Nicholls, the film stars Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak, Michael Sheen as William Boldwood and Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Frank Troy. While some have compared it unfavourably to John Schlesinger’s 1967 adaptation, the film has received largely positive reviews. It will be in Australian cinemas on 25 June.

Sophia Barthes is the first woman to direct a big-screen adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Starring Australian actress Mia Wasikowska as Emma Bovary and Henry Lloyd-Hughes as her husband, the film opened to mixed reviews at the Telluride Film Festival in 2014. It’s coming to Australian cinemas in June.

Director Bill Condon reunites with his Gods and Monsters star Ian McKellen for a story about an aging Sherlock Holmes who is coping with the loss of his once-incredible mind. Sherlock Holmes, based on the 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind (Mitch Cullin, Doubleday), made its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year and will screen at the Sydney Film Festival on 6 June.

While Tom Rob Smith’s latest novel The Farm (S&S) has recently been in the bestsellers chart, director Richard Price has adapted his first novel Child 44 (S&S) for the screen. Tom Hardy (Black Hawk Down, Inception, Warrior) stars as Agent Leo Demidov, who is on the trail of a serial killer in 1950s Soviet Union. The film hasn’t been received well by the critics, but Hardy’s performance has been highly praised. It will be in Australian cinemas in July.

Paper Towns is the second of John Green’s YA novels to be adapted for the screen, following last year’s smash-hit The Fault in Our Stars. The film is directed by Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank) with the same screenwriters from TFIOS. Nat Wolff—who also appeared in TFIOS—and Cara Delevingne star as childhood friends ‘Q’ and Margo. Paper Towns has been in the bestsellers chart for the past month in anticipation of its release in July.

Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) directs the crime film Black Mass, based on the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill (HarperCollins). The film stars Johnny Depp as South Boston crime figure Whitey Bugler, Australian actor Joel Edgerton as FBI agent John Connolly and Kevin Bacon as Connolly’s boss. The film will be released worldwide on 18 September.

Book two in James Dashner’s ‘The Maze Runner’ trilogy, The Scorch Trials (Chicken House), has been adapted for the screen and is coming to cinemas in September. Director Wes Ball and screenwriter T S Nowlin are back on board, as are actors Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee and Patricia Clarkson.

Kate Winslet stars in director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker (Duffy & Snellgrove), based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Australian author Rosalie Ham. The film, which was produced in Victoria, also stars The Hunger Games’  Liam Hemsworth as Kate Winslet’s love interest. It’s due in Australian cinemas in October.

Billy Ray (screenwriter for The Hunger Games and Captain Phillips) directs the crime thriller The Secret in their Eyes (Random House), based on Argentine author Eduardo Sacheri’s novel of the same name. A previous adaptation won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010. This adaptation, starring Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dean Norris and Julia Roberts, will be released in Australian cinemas in October.

The fourth and final ‘Hunger Games’ movie, Mockingjay Part 2, based on Suzanne Collins’ series (Scholastic), will hit Australian cinemas in late November.

Drew Goddard (screenwriter and director of The Cabin in the Woods) has adapted Andy Weir’s debut sci-fi novel The Martian (self-published 2011, then published by Crown Publishing). The film is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Demon and Jessica Chastain. It is expected to be released in Australia in November.

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Tom Holland star as the crew of the whaleship Essex in director Ron Howard’s adaptation of the 2000 book In the Heart of the Sea (Nathaniel Philbrik, Viking). The story of the whaleship Essex, which sunk in the Pacific Ocean after encountering a large, enraged sperm whale, might sound familiar to readers; the same incident inspired Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The film will be released in Australian cinemas in December.

Director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) has brought David Ebershoff’s novel The Danish Girl (A&U) to the big screen. Inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener, who underwent sexual reassignment surgery, The Danish Girl explores sexuality, self-discovery, courage and unconventional love. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe, and will be in Australian cinemas in December.

Also coming in December is Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 romance novel The Price of Salt, directed by Todd Haynes and starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as lesbian lovers.

What’s coming from page to screen in 2015?

Booklovers and cinephiles alike will have noticed the rise in book-to-film adaptations hitting the big screen in recent years, and 2015 is shaping up to be no exception. Vicki Stegink rounds up some adaptations coming to cinemas in early 2015.

From screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men) and director Angelina Jolie comes Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand, Fourth Estate). The film tells the true story of Olympian Louis Zamperini, who survived a plane wreck and became a POW during World War I. It’s opened to mixed reviews in the US and UK and comes to Australian cinemas on 15 January.

Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook) plays gunman Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of American Sniper (HarperCollins). Based on the autobiography of the most lethal sniper in US history, critics are calling it gritty and powerful. It’s in Australian cinemas on 22 January.

Also out on 22 January is Wild starring Reese Witherspoon and based on the autobiography by Cheryl Strayed (Atlantic Books). It chronicles Strayed’s 1100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in the US as she reflects on her tumultuous past. From the director of Dallas Buyer’s Club, the film has received rave reviews and has already been nominated for a slew of awards.

Part biopic, part love story, The Theory of Everything stars Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables) as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as his wife Jane. Adapted from Jane Hawking’s moving memoir Travelling to Infinity: The True Story behind the Theory of Everything (Alma Books), the film hits Australian cinemas on 29 January.

Julianne Moore delivers a powerful performance as Alice Howland in Still Alice, which is being described a ‘heart-wrenching’ and ‘sensitive’ film adaptation of the novel by Lisa Genova (S&S). It tells the story of a Harvard linguistics professor and her struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and it comes to Australian theatres on 29 January.

Johnny Depp plays quirky art dealer and part-time rogue Charles Mortdecai in this adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s 1970s series of comedic crime novels (Penguin). Mortdecai is slated for release on 29 January.

From director P T Anderson (Boogie Nights) comes an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Inherent Vice (Vintage). Set at the end of the psychedelic sixties in LA and featuring Joaquin Pheonix as drug-fuelled detective Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello, Inherent Vice has already received numerous awards nominations. It hits cinemas on 5 February.

Jamie Dornan (The Fall) and Dakota Johnston (The Social Network) star in this much-anticipated adaptation of E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey (Arrow). Fans of the book are being warned that the film will be a little less explicit than its source material in order to assure an R rating. It premieres just in time for Valentine’s Day on 12 February.

It’s not just adult movies that are getting the page-to-screen treatment this summer. There are YA adaptations on offer too. Kody Keplinger’s high-school hit The DUFF (Hodder) is coming to the big screen on 26 February, as is The Seventh Son, adapted from Joseph Delaney’s popular ‘Spook’s Apprentice’ series (Random House). Also due out on 19 March is Insurgent, the sequel to the highly successful Divergent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins).

Awards round-up: October

Among local awards announcements in the past month are the WA Premier’s Book Awards, Colin Roderick Award and the CHASS Australia Book Prize; while shortlists were announced for the Barbara Jefferis Award and the Waverley Library Award.

Majok Tulba has won the Kathleen Mitchell Award for young novelists; Evie Wyld was one of 13 winners of the EU Prize for Literature; and Thomas Keneally has been presented with one of Ireland’s 2014 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards.

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2014 has been awarded to French author Patrick Modiano. Other international awards announced in the past month include: the winners of the Not the Booker Prize, the Gordon Burn Prize and the Forward Prize for Poetry; and the shortlists for the National Book Award, the FT Business Book of the Year Award; the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Goldsmiths Prize.


Top 10 political bios of the past decade

How will Julia Gillard’s memoir measure up against her predecessors’? Nielsen BookScan has put together a list of the bestselling political biographies and memoirs of the past 10 years.

  1. Dreams from My Father (Barack Obama, Text, 2008)
  2. Lazarus Rising (John Howard, HarperCollins, 2010)
  3. My Life (Bill Clinton, Hutchinson, 2004)
  4. I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb, Hachette, 2013)
  5. The Latham Diaries (Mark Latham, Melbourne University
    Press, 2005)
  6. Stasiland (Anna Funder, Text, 2003)
  7. Infidel (Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Pocket Books, 2008)
  8. Conversations with Myself (Nelson Mandela, Macmillan, 2010)
  9. Mandela (Five Mile Press, 2006)
  10. The Costello Memoirs (Peter Costello & Peter Coleman, Melbourne University Press, 2008).


Forthcoming adult book reviews: October and November 2014

» Fiction

Nightingale (Fiona McIntosh, Michael Joseph, November), 3 stars, reviewed by Joanne Shiells


Australia on Horseback (Cameron Forbes, Macmillan, November), 3 stars, reviewed by Dave Martus
Bibliodiversity (Susan Hawthorne, Spinifex Press, November), 3 stars, reviewed by Nathan Hollier
Kerry Stokes (Andrew Rule, HarperCollins, November), 3.5 stars, reviewed by Chris Saliba
Peacemongers (Barry Hill, UQP, November), 5 stars, reviewed by Chris Harrington
Something Quite Peculiar (Steve Kilbey, Hardie Grant, November), 3.5 stars, reviewed by Gerard Elson

Awards round-up: August

Among the local awards announcements in the past month are: the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards; the Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Awards, known as the ‘Rubys’; the National Biography Award; and the Australian Christian Book of the Year Award.

Shortlists have also been announced for the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards; the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards; the Ned Kelly Awards for Australian crime writing; the Davitt Awards for crime writing by Australian women; and the Ngaio Marsh Award for New Zealand crime fiction.

Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Vintage) has been longlisted for the Booker Prize; Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (Granta) has been longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize; Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest (Hamish Hamilton) has been longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award; and Leah Ashton’s Why Resist A Rebel? (Harlequin) has won the award for Short Contemporary Romance at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) RITA Awards.

The winners of the Hugo Awards for science-fiction and fantasy have also been announced.

Fancy Goods questionnaire: Hilary Simmons

hilaryHilary Simmons is the new assistant editor at Books+Publishing. We asked her to share her reading fancies.

What are you reading right now?

I just started reading Various Pets Alive and Dead on the commute to work this morning (Marina Lewycka, Fig Tree). She’s the one who wrote A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Penguin). I’m hooked already—she has this brilliant ability to combine farce, irony and compassion.

What book do you always recommend?

Under the Skin by Michel Faber (Canongate). I know nothing about the film adaptation with Scarlett Johansson—although I’m planning on checking it out—but the book is excellent.

What book are you most looking forward to?

Helen Garner’s new nonfiction book, This House of Grief (Text). I think Garner does nonfiction best; I can vividly recall reading Joe Cinque’s Consolation (Picador) for the first time. Also, the new short-story collection by Margaret Atwood that’s out in a couple of months and Dress, Memory by Lorelei Vashti (A&U).

What book made you wonder what all the fuss was about?

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (A&U), who always writes the same parental-trauma-porn where whatever the worst case scenario you can conceive of for a family comes to pass. Or The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini, Bloomsbury)that was a story that held me right up until the end when everything got tied up in an infuriatingly neat package which felt like it was pre-destined for Hollywood.

What’s the best book you’ve read that no-one’s ever heard of?

This Is How by M J Hyland (Text). I wouldn’t go so far as to say no one’s ever heard of it as she’s got a cult following, but she deserves a wider readership. It’s a masterful study in claustrophobia, loneliness and possibly madness—but you can’t quite tell.

Obligatory desert island question—which book would you want with you?

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes (Faber).

Is there a book you’ve bought for the cover?

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables from the Penguin Clothbound Classics series, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith. It’s all inky blue binding and entwined red birds.

Hardback, paperback or digital?

Paperback. Nothing compares to the weight, feel and smell of a real book. I learnt that from years working in a bookshop—you see customers covertly stroke books and sniff their pages. I think ebooks are well-suited to travel because of their transportability and they’re amazing for academic texts or research purposes. But I prefer to have a real book in my hands that I can drop without fear and/or spill coffee on. I never know what to do with the paper jackets from hardback books, so paperback all the way.

If I were a literary character I’d be…

Anna Karenina crossed with Jo March with a little bit of Nancy Drew thrown in for mystery factor.

The best thing about books is…

They don’t mind when you forget their names.

Stella Prize 2014 longlist announced

The longlist for the second Stella Prize has been announced.

This year’s longlist features six works of fiction and six works of nonfiction. The longlisted titles are:

Letter to George Clooney Moving Among Strangers Burial Rites

Letter to George Clooney by Debra Adelaide (Picador)

Moving Among Strangers by Gabrielle Carey (UQP)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador)

Night Games Mullumbimby The Night Guest

Night Games by Anna Krien (Black Inc)

Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko (UQP)

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane (Penguin)

Boy Lost The Misogyny Factor Madeleine

Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir by Kristina Olsson (UQP)

The Misogyny Factor by Anne Summers (NewSouth)

Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John by Helen Trinca (Text)

The Swan Book Forgotten Rebels of Eureka All the Birds Singing

The Swan Book by Alexis Wright (Giramondo)

The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright (Text)

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld (Random House).

The shortlist for this year’s prize will be announced on 20 March, ahead of the winner announcement in Sydney on 29 April. The winner of this year’s prize will receive a cash prize of $50,000.

For more information about the Stella Prize, visit the website here.

Top ‘Books+Publishing’ junior reviews of 2013

In 2013 Books+Publishing reviewed 99 children’s and YA books. Here are some of our reviewers’ favourites:

Picture books

Only one picture book scored five stars from Books+Publishing’s reviewers this year and that was Bird & Bear by Ann James (The Five Mile Press, May). Natalie Crawford described it as a story about ‘the small moments of understanding that can change a young child’s life’.


Young readers
Once Upon a Slime: 45 Fun Ways to Get Writing … Fast! by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (Pan Macmillan, April) received five stars from Meredith Lewin, who said that while the book is aimed at junior readers, ‘aspiring writers of all ages take note—this is one of the most useful books on the market’.

Lewin also gave four and a half stars to Rosanne Hawke’s Shahana (A&U, June), which she described as ‘an outstanding first entry in the “Through My Eyes” series for readers aged 11-14, which aims to increase awareness of the devastating effects of war on children’.

Jarrah Moore was impressed with the ‘exceptionally rich’ world-building in Julie Hunt’s Song for a Scarlet Runner (A&U, April) and the ‘wonderfully realised’ world of Lian Tanner’s Ice Breaker (A&U, November), awarding them both four and a half stars.

Hannah Cartmel also gave The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray (A&U, August) four and a half stars. She described the book as ‘a lovely and heart-warming story for pre-teen girls, especially those who live a rich fantasy life’.

Once_Upon_a_SlimeshahanaFour SeasonsSong for a Scarlet RunnerIce Breaker Book Cover

Young adult

Natalie Crawford gave five stars to Zac & Mia by A J Betts (Text, August), the winner of the 2012 Text Prize for young adult and children’s writing. ‘Zac & Mia should be mandatory reading for anyone dealing with cancer in their family. It is definitely a stand-out novel for 2013,’ writes Crawford.

Allyse Near’s Fairytales for Wilde Girls (Random House, June) scored five stars and comparisons with Neil Gaiman and Angela Carter from Bec Kavanagh. ‘This is a brilliant debut that will appeal to both adult and young-adult fantasy lovers,’ writes Kavanagh.

Meredith Lewin described Margaret Wild’s The Vanishing Moment (A&U, September) as a ‘riveting exploration of the measure of human life and happiness’ and said reading Kate Hendrick’s The Accident (Text, July) ‘brought back the raw sting of familiarity of reading John Marsden for the first time’. She gave them both four and a half stars.

zac and miaFairytalesThe accidentvanishing moment

Miles Franklin Literary Award 2013 shortlist

The shortlist for the 2013 Miles Franklin Literary Award has been announced, and this year it’s an all-female affair. Our reviewers were impressed with all five nominated titles, three of which are debut novels.

FlounderingReviewer Carody Culver describes Floundering as ‘a dark and lyrical tale of a family reunion that unfolds against a bleak rural Australian backdrop’, and says that the novel ‘deftly captures the fading innocence of a boy who witnesses more than he understands; what he leaves unsaid is as revealing as what he articulates’. … read more.

Beloved‘The Beloved is a vivid bildungsroman with believable characters and intense dramatic events’, writes reviewer Angela Meyer. Set in Papua New Guinea in 1955, the novel is ‘about two strong identities coming up against one another, the way passion (and art) can overtake a person’s very being, and the damaging effects of “wanting the best” for a child who already knows who they are and what they want’. … read more.

Questions of TravelQuestions of Travel combines the ambitious themes of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom with the poetic details of Gail Jones’ Five Bells. And the prose will knock your socks off,’ writes reviewer Andrea Hanke. ‘Essentially this is a story about two common, but very different, experiences of modern travel—an Australian backpacker exploring the world and a Sri Lankan refugee adjusting to Australia—and de Kretser unpicks her characters’ experiences, motivations and emotions with great insight and skill.’ … read more.

‘Dutch photographer, Rika, and her English ethnologist husband Leonard arrive in Papua New Guinea at the end of the 1960s, when the Melanesian country is still under Australian colonial rule. He is to study the remote tribal community of the mountain, and she is along for the ride,’ writes reviewer Andrew Wilkins. ‘The Mountain is a book about the enduring relationship between European and Melanesian in all its complexity: the ties that can bring people together and the mysteries that can confound them on both sides.’ … read more.

Mateship with Birds follows the lives of Harry, ‘a divorced dairy farmer, living alone’, and his next-door neighbour Betty in post-WWII Victoria. Reviewer David Gaunt writes, ‘This is a splendidly poised and wryly funny novel: human nature and relationships are as beautifully observed as the rich, circadian rhythms (I’ve not read better prose about the intimate intricacy of dairy farming) of country life. It is clever, original and richly rewarding.’ … read more.