A Pale View of Hills 

Dulwich Hill branch manager, radio personality, and book selling superstar, Morgan Smith tells us how it is.

June 2018

Gleebooks Bookshop - Monday, May 28, 2018
Last month I did a roundup of new books coming your way as gleaned at conference I attended in Hobart. Here is the second instalment. So many great writers and great books—and all Australian, oi oi oi.

On the very first morning of the conference, former President of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs received a standing ovation after her moving speech about what she went through at the hands of the Government. While outlining ongoing threats to freedom of speech, to democracy and to the human rights of the marginalised, Triggs also kept things light by showing many of the funny but sometimes very cruel cartoons which were published about her. Her memoir, both personal and political, is Speaking Up. (October) 

Extremely interesting and very hopeful for Luddite booksellers was the keynote address by Andrew Keen, author of How to Fix the Future: Staying Human in the Digital Age (out now). He pointed out that the digital economy lends itself to a winner-takes-all monopoly and has not lived up to the early expectations that it would lead to the democratisation of information. Once it was thought that if we did away with the ‘gatekeepers’ —ie publishers, editors, movie companies etc, the internet would be more truthful and democratic but the gatekeepers merely changed form—Facebook, Google et al. Keen pointed out that there is now a counter movement against the digital world with people going back to ‘real’ things like vinyl and paper books. Hurrah!

In fiction,  Stephanie Bishop, (The Other Side of the World) has a new book, Man Out of Time (Sept), which sounds fantastic. I missed Kristina Olsson talking about her new book Shell (October)—the publisher describes it as ‘a soaring, optimistic novel of art and culture, and of love and fate.’ Set in Sydney in the 1960s and around the building of the Opera House, it sounds right up my alley. I can’t wait to read it. 

Two very promising debut crime novels are being released in July. Christian White’s The Nowhere Child is about a woman who is led to believe she went missing as a two year old. Or did she? I’ve read this—it’s well-written, gripping and bound to be a best-seller. Chris Hammer’s Scrublands (murders in a drought-stricken small town with secrets deeply buried) is being hugely hyped by the publisher and according to those who have read it, deservedly so.
Lastly and most excitingly, the surprise final guest was Markus Zusak (The Book Thief) who had us all spellbound talking about his long-awaited novel (it’s been 13 years)—Bridge of Clay (October). Claiming not to be good at reading his own work, he read the first brilliant six pages and had everyone hooked. Because the book contains letters between the protagonists he had written a letter to us, the independent booksellers, thanking us for our championing of not just The Book Thief, but every Australian writer’s work. It was a wonderful end to the conference leaving the booksellers present feeling just a bit proud of our role as the conduit between writers and readers. 

See you on D’Hill, Morgan

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