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Looking Ahead

September is our annual chance to highlight the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, as we celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day, on Wednesday September 4th. Of course, as our readers would know, Gleebooks has been a passionate advocate of ILF for well over a decade, and we’ve delighted in the growth and expansion of the essential services the ILF supports. For us it’s a year-round commitment, and we’d encourage you to respond at any stage with support, financial or otherwise, at any stage. But, as the ILF website says (have a look—it’s terrific to get an overview of the scope and range of projects in train):
‘Wednesday 4 September is a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language, and literacy. Through activities on the day, we focus our attention on the disadvantages experienced in remote communities, and encourage the rest of Australia to raise funds and advocate for more equal access to literacy resources for remote communities.’ Schools, businesses, community groups and individuals are all encouraged to to take part in activities to raise much-needed funds. Join in!

Meanwhile, I’ve just done my annual trip to Melbourne to look at the offerings for Christmas and holiday reading, and I’m happy to report that you can expect a rich and varied menu in fiction, non-fiction, and kids’ books this year. To whet the appetite, here’s a sample of what I’m hoping to read:
Margaret Atwood’s ‘sequel’ to The Handmaid’s TaleThe Testaments (Sept); Author of Museum of Modern Love, Heather Rose returns with a political thriller, Bruny (Oct); Christos Tsiolkas turns to historical fiction with Damascus—based around the gospels and letters of St Paul, focusing on characters one and two generations on from the death of Christ (Nov); Ann Patchett The Dutch House—out this month and reviewed glowingly by Louise and Morgan—by some accounts her best novel yet; Helen Ennis as written a biography of Australian photographer, Olive Cotton (Nov); in Gotta Get Theroux This Louis Theroux offers memoir of his ‘Life and Strange Times in Television ‘(Oct).

in the style of his A Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson turns his highly readable attentions inward to explore the human body in The Body (Oct): Geoffrey Robertson takes his cue from Cicero, the great Roman barrister, to argue that justice requires the return not only of the ‘Elgin’ Marbles to Greece, but of many looted antiquities on display in the museums of Britain, Europe and America in Who Owns History? (Nov); Julian Barnes tours Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel Pozzi in The Man in the Red Coat (Nov); John Le Carré is back chronicling the horrors of our age with Agent Running in the Field (Oct); Archie Roach—stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader gives us his life story in Tell Me Why (Nov); Arkady Renko returns to do battle with harsh and forbidding landscape of Siberia in Martin Cruz Smith’s The Siberian Dilemma (Nov); Helen Garner offers up accounts of her everyday in Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume One 1978–1986 (Nov) and much, much more.

You’ll see them all in the Gleaner and the Summer Reading Guide of course, but in the meantime, here are two more from the list which I have managed to get my hands on on: Garry Disher’s Peace (Nov) is the second of many (I hope) in a crime fiction series set around and beyond the Flinders Ranges. In my opinion, Disher mastered the now red-hot (viz Jane Harper and Chris Hammer) rural noir genre, and he has created, in Paul Hirschhausen a credible and compelling cop. There’s many a twist and plot turn, but Disher’s feel for atmosphere, and capacity to make real characters in real settings is first-rate. A terrific continuation to Bitter Wash Road.

It’s been four years since the publication of Charlotte Wood’s ground-breaking The Natural Way of Things. The Weekend (Nov) is a brilliant, provocative, original, disquieting unsettling, follow-up. Four older women have been close friends for decades. Three of them converge on the beach house of the fourth, Sylvie, on the Christmas just after her death, to fulfil her wish that they clean out her house. It’s a sad, tender, funny, uncomfortable scenario, and Wood is asking serious and challenging questions about the nature of relationships, and about how honest people might be about others and themselves, once the apparent bedrock of shared friendship is rocked.