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

Top ‘Books+Publishing’ adult reviews of 2013

In 2013 Books+Publishing reviewed over 130 adult fiction and nonfiction titles. But which books did our reviewers enjoy the most? Here’s a round-up of the top-scorers:

One of the first books to impress our reviewers was Joyful Strains: Expat Writers on Making Australia Home (ed by Kent MacCarter & Ali Lemer, Affirm Press), published in January. Joanne Shiells gave it four and a half stars, describing the collection as ‘intelligent, relevant, absorbing writing’. Released in February, Karen Foxlee’s The Midnight Dress (UQP) was the first book of the year to receive five stars. ‘This is a beautifully crafted story that builds in tension to the final page,’ said Melanie Barton.


In March, J M Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus (Text) received four and a half stars from Kate Blackwood, who said the novel ‘will challenge the way we think about this world—and the next one’. The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay (A&U), which was published in April, received five stars from Paula Grunseit. ‘This is a heart-crunching novel about reading and writing, dreaming and hoping, loving and taking flight. It’s been awhile since I felt so deeply affected by a novel and I will be very surprised if this book is not an award winner,’ said Grunseit.

The Railwayman s WifeTransactionsFukushima

In July, the short-story collection Transactions (Ali Alizadeh, UQP), the novel Mr Wigg (Inga Simpson, Hachette) and the nonfiction book Fukushima: Japan’s Tsunami and the Inside Story of the Nuclear Meltdowns (Mark Willacy, Macmillan) were our reviewers’ top picks. Of Transactions, Portia Lindsay said: ‘Alizadeh has created a truly global and uncompromisingly frank narrative, spanning the Red Light District in Amsterdam; various war-torn countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan; an Iranian prison; and a British literary festival’. John Purcell said that on finishing reading Mr Wigg he was overwhelmed by ‘that warm feeling that comes from having read something that has strengthened or even reawakened a sense of what is right and good about the world’.

His_Stupid_BoyhoodNarrow Road to the Deep NorthEyrie

In August, Chris Harrington awarded full marks to Peter Goldsworthy’s His Stupid Boyhood: A Memoir (Hamish Hamilton), while a couple of big-name releases were our reviewers’ top picks in October. Clive Tilsley said he ‘truly believes anyone with an interest in Australia’ will enjoy Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Vintage) while David Gaunt said Tim Winton’s Eyrie (Hamish Hamilton) is the author at his ‘most intense and haunting best’.

BarracudaThe Forgotten Rebels of EurekaMapping our world

In November, Martin Shaw gave Barracuda (Christos Tsiolkas, A&U) five stars and coined a new adjective, ‘Tsiolkasised’, while reviewer Patrick Mullins described The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka (Clare Wright, Text) as ‘lively, incisive and timely… essential reading for devotees of Australian history’. Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia (NLA), also published in November, was the last of the top picks for the year, receiving five stars from Chris Harrington.

Bookish dates for 2014

With the new year just around the corner, organisers have been busy planning their book events for 2014. Here are some key dates to put in your Outlook calendar or old-school paper diary:

  • Jaipur Literature Festival: 17-21 January
  • Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards: 28 January
  • Taipei International Book Exhibition: 5-10 February
  • Perth Writers Festival: 20-23 February
  • Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature: 1 March
  • Adelaide Writers’ Week: 1-6 March
  • New Zealand Writers Week (Wellington): 7-12 March
  • Shanghai International Literary Festival: 7-18 March
  • Australian Writers’ Week in China: 17-23 March
  • Australia-China Publishing Forum (Beijing): 19-21 March
  • Bologna Children’s Book Fair: 24-27 March
  • The Stella Prize: April (longlist in February; shortlist in March)
  • London Book Fair: 8-10 April
  • Mother’s Day (Australia and NZ): 11 May
  • Auckland Writers and Readers Festival: 15-19 May
  • CBCA National Conference (Canberra): 16-18 May
  • Australian Booksellers Association and Leading Edge Books conferences (Melbourne): 16-19 May
  • Sydney Writers’ Festival: 19-25 May
  • Book Expo America (New York City): 29-31 May
  • Wordstorm (Darwin): 29 May to 1 June
  • Australian and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts (London): 29 May to 1 June
  • Miles Franklin Literary Award: June (shortlist in April/May)
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards: 23 June (shortlist on 8 April)
  • National Bookshop Day: August
  • Byron Bay Writers Festival: 1-3 August
  • Romance Writers of Australia conference (Sydney): 7-10 August
  • CBCA Awards: 15 August (shortlist on 8 April)
  • CBCA Book Week: 16-22 August
  • Melbourne Writers Festival: 21-31 August
  • New Zealand Post Book Awards: 27 August (shortlist on 23 July)
  • Book Expo Australia (Sydney): 30-31 August
  • Indigenous Literacy Day: September
  • Brisbane Writers Festival: 3-7 September
  • Father’s Day (Australia and NZ): 7 September
  • Man Booker Prize: October
  • Nobel Prize for Literature: October
  • Ubud Writers & Readers Festival: 8-12 October
  • Frankfurt Book Fair: 8-12 October

Best books of 2013: Part one

It’s that time of the year again: booksellers, the media and other lit-lovers have begun posting lists of their favourite books of 2013. We have scoured the internet to bring you a round-up of local and international pundits’ picks …

in darknessFrom local booksellers:

Bookworld has compiled a number of best-of lists, including a Best of 2013 that is heavy on Australian authors; Jon Page from Pages & Pages has ‘agonised’ over his top ten reads of the year; Mark Rubbo from Readings has shared his five favourite reads from 2013; and Emily Gale from Readings has asked a number of Australian YA authors to pick the young adult books they love (although not all were released in 2013).

the-rosie-projectFrom overseas booksellers:

Amazon editors have picked their top 100 books of 2013, as well as their top 20 in other categories, including nonfiction and teen and young adult; Barnes & Noble has compiled its top 60 books for the year; Hudson Booksellers has released its best of 2013; and Chapters Indigo includes Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project (Text) among its best books of the year.

the-narrow-road-to-the-deep-northFrom the media:

The Guardian has asked a group of writers and critics to select their best books of the year, as has the Observer. The New York Times has kicked off its staggered annual best-of lists with its pick of Best Illustrated Books and Notable Children’s Books. Publishers Weekly has a slideshow to show off its multi-category annual Best Books list. Kirkus has released its Best Fiction and Best Children’s Books of 2013, with further lists for teen, nonfiction, indie and book apps still to come. The New Zealand Listener has a compiled a comprehensive list of 50 best children’s books for 2013. There are also best-of lists at the Globe and Mail, the London Evening Standard, the Spectator, Stylist Magazine, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.

the-goldfinchOther lists:

The Library Journal has compiled a list of under-recognised titles in its Best Books: Top Ten, as well as squeezing in a few more titles in More of the Best. Its sister publication the School Library Journal has picked its Best Books for younger readers, while the Young Adult Library Services Association has compiled a handy Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers among its other best-of lists. Designers & Books has cast its eye over the Notable Design Books of the year; and the Russia and India Report has chosen a range of titles, ‘from extraordinary history to neglected masterpieces and contemporary satire’, for its Best Books from Russia in 2013.

Page to screen: summer and beyond

Summer once again brings the release of a number of book-to-film adaptations, including big-budget blockbusters, takes on bestselling and critically acclaimed novels, and new instalments in popular YA series. Brad Jefferies rounds up some of the highlights.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second installment of the film trilogy based on J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit (various imprints), will be released in Australian cinemas on Boxing Day. It follows the 2012 release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and is co-written, produced and directed by Peter Jackson.

Also released on Boxing Day is The Railway Man, a war film based on the autobiography of the same name by Eric Lomax (Vintage), and set on a POW camp on the Thai-Burma railway during the Second World War. The film is directed by Jonathan Teplitzky and stars Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Jeremy Irvine.

Another highly anticipated film is Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, an adaptation of the two memoirs of Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street and Catching the Wolf of Wall Street (both Hachette). The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a successful but corrupt stockbroker, and co-stars Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey. Originally set for a November 2013 release, it opens in Australian cinemas on 23 January 2014.

Brian Percival’s adaptation of Australian author Markus Zusak’s award-winning novel, The Book Thief (Picador), will be released in Australian cinemas on 9 January 2014. It stars Roger Allam as the narrator, Death; Sophie Nelisse as Liesel; and Geoffrey Rush as Hans.

Veronica Roth’s ‘Divergent’ trilogy’ (HarperCollins) has drawn comparisons to that other dystopian YA series, ‘The Hunger Games’ (Suzanne Collins, Scholastic). The blockbuster adaptation of the first book in the series, Divergent, will be released on 20 March 2014, and stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Kate Winslet.

Actors Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have teamed up again, this time as the wealthy owners of a timber empire whose future is put in doubt when it’s learnt that they can’t conceive an heir. It’s an adaptation of Serena, based on the 2010 Ron Rash book of the same name (Text). It’s expected in Australian cinemas in April 2014.

John Green’s bestselling 2012 novel, The Fault in our Stars (Viking), is being adapted into a film of the same name. Shailene Woodley will star as Hazel, a 16-year-old cancer patient and the narrator of the book, while Nat Wolff and Laura Dern will also co-star. Filming began in August, and it’s scheduled for a June 2014 release.

Also scheduled for the first quarter of 2014 is the George Clooney-directed The Monuments Men, based on The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M Edsel (Preface); and Winter’s Tale, an adaptation of Mark Helprin’s adult fantasy novel of the same name (Harvest Books), which will star Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay and Russell Crowe.


In the game: bestselling sports books in Australia

HarperCollins launched Ricky Ponting’s memoir At the Close of Play this month with an initial print run of 100,000 copies. The book was launched by former PM John Howard and has already inspired an MCG made entirely of books.

The publisher had a good reason to print big. When it comes to book sales, cricket is by far the most popular sport, claiming six of the 10 highest selling sports titles in Australia in the past decade. (Rugby League came a distant second with two of the bestselling titles, while AFL and car racing had one title apiece.) The book to beat is of course Steve Waugh’s Out of My Comfort Zone, which has sold over 230,000 copies since it was released in 2006.

Bestselling sports books in Australia in the past decade:

2012: Old School (Nathan Hindmarsh & Michael Visontay, Macmillan)
2011: Darren Lockyer (Darren Lockyer & Dan Koch, Random House)
2010: That’s What I’m Talking About (Shane Crawford & Glenn McFarlane, Michael Joseph)
2009: True Colours (Adam Gilchrist, Macmillan)
2008: Glenn McGrath: Line and Strength (Glenn McGrath & Daniel Lane, William Heinemann)
2007: Peter Brock (Hyperactive)
2006: Out of My Comfort Zone (Steve Waugh, Penguin)
2005: Chappelli Speaks Out (Ashley Mallett, A&U)
2004: One Who Will: The Search for Steve Waugh (Jack Egan, A&U)
2003: Lillee (Dennis Lillee, Hachette).

© Nielsen BookScan 2013

comfortzoneglenn mcgrathtrue colourschapellionewhowilllillee

Top stories this week

wbnimage2013oct23This week’s top stories from the Weekly Book Newsletter include:


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BOOK REVIEW: Stop Press: The Last Days of Newspapers (Rachel Buchanan, Scribe)

Stop Press Book CoverFrom her first job as a junior reporter at a local paper in New Zealand to her time as a subeditor at the Age in the early 1990s, Rachel Buchanan has had an intimate relationship with print media. In 2012, after a decade out of the newspaper business, Buchanan returned as a subeditor for Fairfax Editorial Services in New Zealand, joining a team created to take over the subbing of numerous Australian newspapers. The world of newspapers was being turned upside down: subediting was being outsourced, printing presses were shutting and many journalists, editors and printers had lost their jobs. What did this mean for the future of the industry? How much longer would people hold a printed newspaper in their hands? Buchanan travelled between Australia and New Zealand to answer these and many other questions, and has pulled together a fascinating history of newspaper production in both countries. This is a deeply personal and emotional account, but necessarily so; it is a story of people losing their professions and countries losing cultural cornerstones. Buchanan’s account could have benefited from more discussion about why these fundamental shifts are taking place: why are Australians and New Zealanders reading fewer printed newspapers? Why do media companies believe outsourcing is the answer? Nevertheless, this book fills a gap by telling the stories of the many people who have dedicated their lives to making newspapers.

Eloise Keating is news editor of Books+Publishing. This review first appeared on the Books+Publishing website in August 2013. View more pre-publication reviews here.

Fancy Goods questionnaire: Brad Jefferies

bradphotoBrad Jefferies is the new publishing assistant at Books+Publishing. We asked him to share his reading fancies.

What are you reading right now?

Late last night I finished Wayne Macauley’s collection Other Stories (Black Pepper). Very funny and absurd (mostly) little stories. I’ve forgotten the name of it, but the story where the politician commandeers a tractor on a rampage through the city was my favourite.

What book do you always recommend?

Ever since Craig Silvey replied to one of my friend’s fan-emails following up on the Batman vs Superman debate, I’ve been pretty insistent about Jasper Jones (A&U)—mostly because Silvey seems like a really nice person.

What book are you most looking forward to?

I’d really like Julia Gillard to rip into Kevin Rudd in the book she’s writing. If she is (again) too gracious to do so, then I’m looking forward to reading Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda (A&U).

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

Am I allowed to say The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion, Text)?

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

Way to Go! Sadness, Euphoria and the Fremantle Dockers by Matt Price (Fremantle Press). Price knew that being able to laugh at yourself is a key skill for us Dockers supporters.

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

Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway). As well as being a great book, I think it would humble me and stymie any thoughts I had about trying to swim my way to safety.

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

Not recently, although if a book is part of a series I feel obligated to buy and read the whole set so it looks nice on the shelf.

Hardback, paperback or digital?

Paperback. I do have an ereader, but I only use it when I’m desperate for something to read and I haven’t got a print book handy. As for hardback, those slips they put over the cover really annoy me. Am I supposed to read with them on, or put them aside? If I put them aside I never see them again, and if I leave them on they crease and tear in my bag. Paperback is much simpler.

If I were a literary character I’d be…

I planted out my herbs and chilli plants yesterday, and it was hard not to imagine myself as a tiny, apartment-bound modern day Thoreau (even though he’s not technically a character) tending to my Walden (which is actually a balcony).

The best thing about books is…

They help me to understand all the strange things and strange people in the world.