There have been some great #AusLit titles released in the US this year so I wanted to share those that I have read here (it is by no means an exhaustive list of all Aussie titles that got published in the US in 2019!). If there are others that you know of and would recommend to me, please let me know in the comments below.
This April 2019 release was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it absolutely wowed me! It is a coming of age narrative following a young man, and his entanglement in the underworld of Brisbane. It is superbly written, has a cast of characters that jump off the page, and had me on the edge of my seat reading it. For international readers, I’d also particularly recommend the audiobook edition. Here are some more of my thoughts here:
Lucy from Book Axe loved it
… as did Matthew Sciarappa
This was on my radar as it had been shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize – it is a cult-narrative following dual timelines from the perspectives of a mother and daughter. We see the role the cult has on their lives and relationship, and their reflections on motherhood as a theme – while I enjoyed this I felt it was let down by the ending. Still one I’d recommend checking out.
This one was a bit of a disappointing read for me, and while I enjoyed the writing and characterisation, the pacing was all off and I wasn’t feeling compelled by the story. I’d still try another title from McLean as I think she wrote her young women characters particularly well, and the audio edition was well narrated by Cat Gould.
This came onto my radar as it was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for 2019, and not long after it was being published in the US. This one is an interesting coming of age narrative from a young woman’s perspective, as she and her family (a Goan immigrant family) experience Angola in the lead up to independence from Portuguese rule. Well crafted prose and powerful imagery, this one packs a punch for such a short read.
Small Beer Press, who also published Claire G. Coleman’s debut novel, recently released this title by Indigenous Australian writer, Kim Scott. This narrative follows a young woman as she and a group of other Noongar people revisit the site of a massacre. It is a rich exploration of the legacy and traumas of colonialism, and cleverly plays with genre throughout the narrative. Well worth a read!
Watch Scott read from Taboo here
This short story collection was released in Australia and the US at around the same time which is exciting in its own right! It is a theme driven collection, with the stories featuring characters who were traveling beyond their boundaries, whether this be into new relationships or into literal new terrain. I also think the stories all spoke to the role that the physical environment we are in shapes character, and the range of international settings that Rowe sets the narratives in allowed for a really fulsome exploration of this theme in a way that many international readers will connect with.
You can watch my review in the video above (under Taboo) or read my full written review that featured in the Reading Women newsletter.
This was a particularly exciting release as Castagna also came to Houston as part her US book-tour. This novel about a watermark immigration incident in recent Australian history is an engaging read that will resonate thematically with US readers on border issues and the humanity in these complexities.
See Castagna read from the novel here
This captured global headlines when it won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Literature in 2019, particularly given the author’s status as an asylum seeker detained on Manus Island. It is now available in print outside of Australia, and is well worth checking out for a genre-blurring poetic non-fiction account of Boochani’s journey and the experiences of those around him in seeking asylum in Australia.
My first read by Harper was her stand-alone release, and its safe to say it won’t be my last! This is a slow build and a psychological narrative, looking at the complexities around life in outback Australia and the isolation that can haunt families. I was also thrilled that Harper made a Houston stop on her US booktour – I loved hearing about the 900km journey she took across the outback in the name of research, and the discussions she had with people local to the area to get the feel for this story just right.
Disclaimer: some affiliate links used, and some books were provided by the publisher for review – all opinions expressed are my own.