Man Booker Prize 2018 – The winner announced

Congratulations to Anna Burns for her unconventional novel Milkman, winner of the 2018 Man Booker, and recipient of a £50,000 prize.

None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour. Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.’ (Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 Chair of judges)

See below for the 2018 short listed books. With such an eclectic mix of themes there is bound to be something that appeals! But if it is all too much, don’t forget the long-listed Sabrina, the first graphic novel to be nominated for the Man Booker.

Milkman by Anna Burns

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous… Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences. (Faber & Faber)

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Escape is only the beginning. From the brutal cane plantations of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-filled streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black is the tale – inspired by a true story – of a world destroyed and the search to make it whole again. (Serpent’s Tale)

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.

Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.

Everything Under  by Daisy Johnson

Words are important to Gretel, always have been. As a child, she lived on a canal boat with her mother, and together they invented a language that was just their own. She hasn’t seen her mother since the age of sixteen, though – almost a lifetime ago – and those memories have faded.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy’s estranged mother.

Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The deadpan absurdities of institutional living, daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike, allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks and stories shared through sewage pipes.

Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line – until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny. The Mars Room presents not just a bold and unsentimental panorama of life on the margins of contemporary America, but an excoriating attack on the prison-industrial complex. (Jonathan Cape)

The Overstory  by Richard Powers

 Nine strangers, each in different ways, become summoned by trees, brought together in a last stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest. The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable, ranging from antebellum New York to the late-twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, revealing a world alongside our own – vast, slow, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world, and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe. (Penguin random House)

The Long Take  by Robin Robertson

Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can’t return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but – as those dark, classic movies made clear – the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties.

While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it – yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself. (Pan Macmillan)

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Good Reading Magazine – October 2018

The October issue of Good Reading magazine is ready for you to enjoy through Blue Mountains Library!

In this month’s edition:

  • Beauty from Chaos: Swedish-Australian writer Kristina Olsson on Shell, her striking novel about 1960s Australia, conscription, and the construction of the Sydney Opera House.
  • Moriarty’s Return: Liane Moriarty interrogates the new religion of mindfulness in her highly anticipated new novel Nine Perfect Strangers.
  • Singer-songwriter Holly Throsby on the unsolved Aussie mystery that haunts her new novel Cedar Valley.
  • Jodi Picoult on conducting over 150 interviews for her new novel A Spark of Light.
  • Kate Morton tells us about her mother, the antiques dealer and her new book The Clockmaker’s Daughter.
  • Celebrate the connections between trees in a new illustrated edition of The Hidden Life of Trees.

Latest podcast:

EPISODE #11: As ABC political correspondent Laura Tingle put the finishing touches on her latest Quarterly Essay, Follow the Leader: Democracy and the rise of the strongman, Canberra descended into chaos. Dutton challenged, Turnbull fell, Morrison won. After some lightning-fast edits, the updated essay came out in the wake of the turmoil, and it examines Australian politics and the leaders of Germany, America, and China in order to answer the question in the minds of many: What the hell is going on?

Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

You can borrow Good Reading from the library or access it right here, right now, with your library card.

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Alison’s Picks – October

The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt. It’s bracing to read a novel that deals with the lives of women respectfully, intelligently, and with compassion and sly humour. Nothing cosy or PC about her observations, either. Several narrative strands run concurrently in this one, beginning with the sudden departure of Mia’s husband Boris, who needs a ‘pause’ in their marriage. There is the summer writing class Mia runs for teenage girls, yielding surprising results. There is her ageing mother with her friends, her book club, her deep recognition of the ‘bitterness’ of ageing. There is Lola next door, a jeweller whose work waits to be valued. Other strands too… but what I am left with as a reader is the beautiful prospect of a clever writer unpicking the experiences we human beings are heir to, and chuckling quietly over it all. Hustvedt’s range of exploration is broad: philosophy, neuroscience, literature and psychology are some of her playgrounds, and she deplores the alleged rift between arts and sciences, knowing that rift is man-made and simplistic.

The Life to Come  by Michelle de Kretser. The author has won the 2018 Miles Franklin prize for this one. The prose is seemingly effortless: picturesque, dense and gritty; and often, often funny. I always notice language first. This language has the subtlety and texture of poetry. But the book provides very little narrative drive.  Which I almost don’t mind. You must be prepared to inhabit the universes the author provides, at the time she provides them. The novel plaits together the lives of Pippa, a writer: Celeste with her married lover; and Ash whose Sri Lankan childhood guaranteed him a complex and difficult later life. Over halfway through the book at present, I still wonder where de Kretser is taking me. The jury is out, on narrative.


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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – October

Best Read: A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner 

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away…. September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Crime: The Escape by C.L.Taylor 

Australian Author: The Love that I Have by James Moloney

General: A Stranger in the House  by Shari Lapena 

Thriller: The Visitors by Catherine Burns

Thriller: Look for Me by Lisa Gardner 

Saga/Romance: The Sapphire Widow by Dinah Jefferies

eAudio Books:

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland 

Nine-year-old Alice Hart grows up in an isolated, idyllic home between sugar cane fields and the sea, where her mother’s enchanting flowers and their hidden messages shelter her from the dark moods of her father. When tragedy irrevocably changes her life, Alice goes to live with the grandmother she never knew existed, on an Australian native flower farm that gives refuge to women who, like Alice, are lost or broken. In the Victorian tradition, every flower has a meaning and, as she settles into her new life, Alice uses this language of native flowers to say the things that are too hard to speak.

As she grows older, family secrecy, a devastating betrayal and a man who’s not all he seems combine to make Alice realise there are some stories that flowers alone cannot tell. If she is to have the freedom she craves, she must find the courage to possess the most powerful story she knows: her own.

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eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library


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Librarians’ Choice – October

1. Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

Bridge of Clay is about a boy who is caught in the current – of destroying everything he has, to become all he needs to be. He builds a bridge to save his family, but also to save himself. It’s an attempt to transcend humanness, to make a single, glorious moment: A miracle and nothing less.

2. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales
3. Shell by Kristina Olsson
4. The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper
5. Lost without you by Rachael Johns
6. Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby
7. Boys will be boys by Clementine Ford
8. Lenny’s book of everything (junior fiction) by Karen Foxlee
9. You daughters of freedom by Claire Wright
10. The Valley by Steve Hawke

source: Librarian’s Choice




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Expert Advice for Writers….

Motivational and inspiring – two key feedback messages from our August writing workshop with Julian Leatherdale – a published author giving an insider’s insights. Our next is on Saturday 22 September at Katoomba Library…book soon at any branch as there are only a few places left. (10am to 3pm | $25 | Age 16+).

• Comprehensive, motivating, inspiring (1)


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Alison’s Picks – September


A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey. In 1954 The Australian Redex Car Trials were conducted, over a dangerous and difficult route nick-named ‘the crystal highway’ (broken glass). In this, Peter Carey’s latest novel, diminutive car dealer Titch Bobbs, his wife Irene and their navigator Willie Bachhuber, decide to enter, driving a Holden and hoping a win will be good for business. Of course a huge and taxing journey like this is also a huge life journey, for all the people involved. Each of the three is changed utterly, especially Bachhuber, whose very identity – that person he thought he was – is washed away and re-written. And the black/white nexus is under the fiercest of spotlights. As is the male/female nexus. Having read most of what Carey has written, I’m calling this his tour de force.

 The Dry by Jane Harper.  I can see why this one has gripped readers everywhere. A husband, a wife and their child are found murdered in and near their property in rural Victoria. It’s looks like a murder/suicide, but is it? That’s the question for the local cop and a blow-in investigator from Town. As the investigation ramps up, so does the relentless summer heat. It is another character, with a decisive role to play. Harper’s portrayal of Australians, their lives and the way they speak, is beautifully convincing. It’s not simple ‘crime fiction’, it’s more than that.



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