It’s been three months between Gleaners, so a belated welcome to 2021 on behalf of all of us at Gleebooks. Like most of you, I can’t pretend to have enjoyed summer (my least favourite Sydney season anyway), with the ever-present anxiety hovering in a pre-vaccine Covid world. Still, after the trials and tribulations of 2020, we can hope for a better, safer, 2021.
The world of books and writing endures, of course, and thank goodness for that. There’s a lot to look forward to, as this issue demonstrates. For Gleebooks, more of the same, we trust, with heaps of very good books to be published, and eager and well-read staff members to recommend them. We’re also pressing forward with our Events Program, contingent on Covid restrictions about space, of course. And we’ve a Sydney Writers’ Festival to look forward to in late April at Carriageworks, where an enticing array of events, featuring authors appearing in person and virtually, is currently being curated. We’re delighted to be involved again as official booksellers.
Our engagement with schools and institutions continues to ramp up, and we’d love to hear from you to discuss our services and ways we could support you. Rachel’s brilliant book clubs and story time for kids is expanding this year, and we are delighted to say that we will also be initiating some book clubs for adults this year. Most excitingly, we’ll be sharing news of some very exciting proposed developments for our flagship Glebe shop. Next year marks 30 years since we moved down the hill from our original location, and what’s happening is more than a face lift, promise.
And, briefly, to reading. I was deeply affected, in very different ways, by two Scottish novels of 2020. Andrew O’Hagan’s Mayflies I found beautiful, moving, wise and funny. Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain is a grim, harrowing tale of poverty, addiction, and the relationship between a child and a substance-abusing parent, set in 1980s Glasgow. It’s not perfect, but it’s important and demands to be read. Over summer I caught up with three new Australian novels: Amanda Lohrey’s The Labyrinth—a quietly compelling and reflective novel set on the south coast of NSW; Ceridwen Dovey’s Life After Truth—set in Harvard of a few years ago, its a striking and thought provoking departure from her earlier books; Gail Jones’ Our Shadows employs a split narrative as the imaginative landscape for lives of three generations lived in Kalgoorlie. It’s a beautifully observed and rendered story, moving in and out of the social and personal histories of place and family members. Jones is gifted with a rare sensitivity to blend history and character, and the impact of the past on how we might live in the present.