Two Years Eight Months and Twenty Eight NightsDo you remember John Banville’s playful book, The Infinities?  Salman Rushdie’s Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-eight Nights features rampant spirits as well, but the ways in which they interfere with the lives of men are quite different to the capricious Greek gods that saunter through Banville’s novel…

Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-eight Nights (an allusion to the 1001 nights of Scheherazade’s storytelling) begins with a love story.  A medieval Muslim philosopher called Ibn Rashd (known to us in the 21st century by his Latinised name Averroës) is exiled from his home town of Cordoba because he taught that natural phenomena obeyed natural laws that God had created.  Although today Ibn Rashd is acknowledged as the ‘founding father of secular thought’, in his own time he was less influential than his rival Al-Ghazali of Tus who argued that the only law that exists is what God wills, and that anyone who disagrees with faith is incoherent.  (And alas, this idea still has its adherents who use it to justify atrocities).

Sent to a place where he does not belong (migration is a frequent theme in Rushdie’s books) Ibn Rushd falls in love with Dunia, a jinnia, (i.e. a female jinn or genie), because these events take place at a time when the slits in the world are open and jinns who are normally quiescent, are out and about.  Dunia thus becomes a mythical matriarch, producing innumerable offspring who combine the human qualities of their father and the quixotic characteristics of a supernatural creature from the unknown world.

These offspring spread to the four corners of the world, and closer to our time, end up doing battle with more malevolent jinns when in the period of The Strangeness lasting two years, eights months and twenty-eight nights, the world is under siege from amoral and hostile beings who make Banville’s mischief-makers look like innocents.

We meet Mr Geronimo first, a man baffled by a mysterious phenomena that follows The Great Storm.  He finds himself levitated slightly above the ground, the distance between his feet and the floor rising slightly as time passes and becoming more noticeable.  Mr Geronimo, his middle name anglicised by Americans, was born Raphael Hieronymus Manezes in Bombay in India, and is the illegitimate offspring of Father Jerry D’Niza who uproots him and sends him to New York to learn architecture.  Like all of Dunia’s offspring Mr Geronimo is marked by the absence of ear lobes, and his destiny and his doom is to be out of step with God, ahead of our time or behind it.  Mr Geronimo is a likeable character who chooses the humble work of gardening rather than more ambitious architecture, and the reader feels his travails keenly.

Next up is street-smart Jimmy Kapoor, who is terrorised by a jinn manifestation of his own comic-book creation, a superhero called Natraj Hero bursting into his bedroom.  Dunia turns up to warn him to leave because she can’t protect him from the danger, but (as you might imagine) Jimmy has trouble convincing his mother and cousin that there’s a malevolent jinn out to get them.

Also making her way through the slits into our world during the storm is the foundling Baby Storm Doe.  She turns out to have a unique gift, of great value to her adoptive mother Mayor Rosa Fast, because she causes skin to rot whenever she detects corruption.

Finally there is Teresa Saca Cuartos,  who is as flamboyantly tough and brave as she had to be – admittedly a flawed being with a limited capacity for empathy but with a handy no-nonsense attitude to everything. She too joins the fight to rid the world of capricious evil, and becomes one of the champions of this bold story.

In the hands of a lesser story-teller all this would be disastrous nonsense, but combining a sense of ideas in flux, a lush style and fluid characterisation works just fine.   Enlisting the reader in the fight against dogmatic irrational evil, Rushdie creates a spectacle of wonders. Playful and witty, the novel celebrates difference, duality and the Other, romping along with incorrigible optimism and poking fun, even when dreadful things happen.

Very dreadful things do happen.

At the beginning of the War of the Worlds, Ra’im took to the water, and one lightless afternoon he arose as a giant sea-monster from the winter harbour and swallowed the Staten Island Ferry.  A tide of horror spread across the city and beyond and the president went on TV to calm the nation’s fears.  That night even this most articulate of chief executives looked ashen and at a loss, his familiar nostrums, we will not sleep until, those responsible will be, you harm the United States of America at your peril, make no mistake, my fellow Americans, this crime will be avenged, sounded hollow and impotent.  The president had no weapons that could deal with this attacker.  He had become a president of empty words.  As many of them are, as they have all been, for so very, very long. But we had expected better of him. (p. 129)

Despite the mayhem these very powerful jinn can cause, Rushdie cuts them down to size.  He mocks their lack of organisation, their petty competitiveness and their preoccupation with image:

For a long time the sorcerer Zabardast had looked the way a sorcerer should look: the long beard, the high hat, the staff.  The sorcerer to whom Mickey Mouse was apprenticed, Gandalf the Grey and Zabardast would all have recognised kindred spirits in one another.  However, Zabardast was conscious of his image and, now that the seals were broken and the slits between the worlds had reopened, now that the jumpgate to a wormhole to Peristan stood open day and night in Jackson Heights, he studied films and magazines to keep his look relevant.  Above all, he liked the edginess of Jet Li falling in love with a thousand-year-old white snake.  He wished briefly that he looked like Jet Li, and for a time he considered a radical modernisation of his look, and putting on the Buddhist monk’s white robe and necklace of beads and shaving his head like a chopsocky movie hero.  In the end he rejected this change.  Act your age, he told himself.  He didn’t want to look like a kung fu star after all.  He wanted to look like a god.  (p. 133-4)

It comes as no surprise when one of the jinn links up with the Swots of a country called A, torn apart by tribal infighting:

So there was a foreign invasion.  This was a mistake foreigners repeatedly made – the attempted conquest of the land of A. – but they invariably left with their tails between their legs, or just lay dead on the battlefield for the benefit of scavenging wild dogs, who weren’t choosy about what they ate and were willing to digest even this type of horrible foreign food.  But when the foreign invasion was repelled what replaced it was even worse, a murderous gang of ignoramuses who called themselves the Swots, as if the mere word would earn them the true status of scholars.  What the Swots had studied deeply was the art of forbidding things, and in a very short time they had forbidden painting, sculpture, music, theatre, film, journalism, hashish, voting, elections,  individualism, disagreement, pleasure, happiness, pool tables, clean-shaven chins (on men), women’s faces, women’s bodies, women’s education, women’s sports, women’s rights.  They would have liked to have forbidden women altogether but even they could see that that was not entirely feasible, so they contented themselves with making women’s lives as unpleasant as possible.  (p. 227)

The narrator zips along recounting this tale from the vantage point of a thousand years from hence, which is a nice optimistic touch given the mess our world is in at the moment, when we feel ourselves besieged by similar forces of evil.  And although the style is inclusive there is a commitment to some form of absolute truth that I like:

How treacherous history is!  Half-truths, ignorance, deceptions, false trails, errors and lies, and buried somewhere in between all of that, the truth, in which it’s easy to lose faith, of which it is frequently easy to say, it’s a chimera, there’s no such thing, everything is relative, one man’s absolute belief is another man’s fairy tale, but about which we insist, we insist most emphatically, that it is too important an idea to give up to the relativity merchants.  (p.220)

In Rushdie’s world, evil is defeated by mockery, superior force and its own inherent failings.  That’s something to think about…

Other reviews are at The Guardian and for a rather humourless feminist critique of it, see Ursula Le Guin’s thoughts, also at The Guardian.

See also Becky’s beaut review at Becky’s Books.

Author: Salman Rushdie
Title: Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-eight Nights
Publisher: Jonathan Cape (an imprint of Vintage, Penguin/Random House, 2015
ISBN: 9781910702048
Source: Kingston Library


Fishpond: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 26, 2015

2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Longlist

Across the ditch in New Zealand, the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlist has been announced.  This is actually the first time they’ve announced the longlist, and they’re doing it because it provides publicity and recognition of a wider group of authors.  It’s certainly a good idea, because for me it provides a useful list of novels to track down and new authors to get to know.

I’m pleased to see that I have already reviewed two on the longlist, Stephen Daisley’s Coming Rain and The Chimes by Anna Smaill (which was also nominated for the Booker).   I’ve already bought Patricia Grace’s Chappy with next year’s Indigenous Literature Week in mind and I’m familiar with some of the other authors on the list even if I don’t have the books nominated.  I’ve read Laurence Fearnley’s The Hut Builder, Wulf by Hamish Clayton and also La Rochelle’s Road by Tanya Moir, but I don’t know anything about the other authors so a spending spree at Fishpond is in order.

(Fishpond is the best place for Ausssies to buy Kiwi books because they don’t charge for postage, click the link in the RH sidebar if you want to support this little blog of mine, and keep it free of ads.  BTW this is a good opportunity for me to thank the unknown buyer who buys all kinds of books via the Fishpond link on this blog – not just ones I’ve reviewed but kids books and non-fiction too – every little helps to pay for the costs of running ANZ LitLovers and for Giveaway postage too, so thank you!)

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the longlist! Congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers, and thanks to Tracy Farr (author of noteworthy The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt) for the heads-up.

The Antipodeans by Greg McGee (Upstart Press)
Astonished Dice: Collected Short Stories by Geoff Cochrane (Victoria University Press)
The Back of His Head by Patrick Evans (Victoria University Press)
Chappy by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House) on my TBR
The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Hodder & Stoughton) See my review
Coming Rain by Stephen Daisley (Text Publishing) See my review
The Invisible Mile by David Coventry (Victoria University Press)
The Legend of Winstone Blackhat by Tanya Moir (Penguin Random House)
The Pale North by Hamish Clayton (Penguin Random House)
Reach by Laurence Fearnley (Penguin Random House)

Illustrated Non Fiction:
Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed by Nick Mortimer and Hamish Campbell (Penguin Random House)
My Family Table: Simple Wholefood Recipes from ‘Petite Kitchen’ by Eleanor Ozich (Allen & Unwin)
Hello Girls and Boys! A New Zealand Toy Story by David Veart (Auckland University Press)
Tuatara: Biology and Conservation of a Venerable Survivor by Alison Cree (Canterbury University Press)
Real Modern: Everyday New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s by Bronwyn Labrum (Te Papa Press)
Coast. Country.Neighbourhood.City edited by Michael Barrett (Six Point Press)
Te Ara Puoro: A Journey into the World of Māori Music by Richard Nunns (Potton and Burton)
New Zealand Photography Collected by Athol McCredie (Te Papa Press)
Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History by Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, Aroha Harris (Bridget Williams Books)
Tramping: a New Zealand History by Shaun Barnett and Chris MacLean (Potton and Burton)

General Non Fiction:
Maurice Gee: Life and Work by Rachel Barrowman (Victoria University Press)
Terrain: Travels through a deep landscape by Geoff Chapple (Penguin Random House)
The Villa at the Edge of the Empire: One Hundred Ways to Read a City by Fiona Farrell (Penguin Random House)
Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House)
Lost and Gone Away by Lynn Jenner (Auckland University Press)
Kitchens: The New Zealand Kitchen in the 20th Century by Helen Leach (Otago University Press)
Panguru and the City, Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua: An Urban Migration History byMelissa Matutina Williams (Bridget Williams Books)
Outcasts of the Gods? The Struggle over Slavery in Māori New Zealand by Hazel Petrie (Auckland University Press)
Journey to a Hanging by Peter Wells (Penguin Random House)
The Healthy Country? A History of Life and Death in New Zealand by Alistair Woodward and Tony Blakley (Auckland University Press)

The Art of Excavation by Leilani Tamu (Anahera Press)
Shaggy Magpie Songs by Murray Edmond (Auckland University Press)
How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes by Chris Tse (Auckland University Press)
The Night We Ate the Baby by Tim Upperton (Haunui Press)
Otherwise by John Dennison (Auckland University Press)
Mr Clean & The Junkie by Jennifer Compton (Mākaro Press)
Song of the Ghost in the Machine by Roger Horrocks (Victoria University Press)
Tender Machines by Emma Neale (Otago University Press)
The Conch Trumpet by David Eggleton (Otago University Press)
Dear Neil Roberts by Airini Beautrais (Victoria University Press)

To read about the longlisted titles click here.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist will be announced on 8 March 2016, and the winners (including the four Best First Book Awards and a Māori Language award) will be announced at a ceremony on 10 May 2016, held as the opening night event of the Auckland Writers Festival.

Between EnemiesThe anniversaries of the First World War have been a catalyst for numerous books but Between Enemies is the first I’ve come across that explores the topic of collaboration during the German/Austrian Occupation of Italy.  Since its publication in 2010 as Non tutti i bastardi sono di Vienna (which in the original Italian means ‘Not all are bastards in Vienna’) , the novel has won a swag of prestigious literature prizes, including the Premio Campiello, Premio Comiso, Premio Citta de Cuneo and Premio Latisana, and the book has been widely translated.

Today when we visit Italy it is hard to imagine its charming villages bristling with troops and its beautiful landscapes ruined by trench warfare.  Certainly in Australia, Italy’s part in this war gets very little attention, and I suspect that many would assume that the Italians were allies of Germany.  Military buffs can explore the details at Wikipedia but for the purposes of reading this novel all you need to know is that Italy had (belatedly) joined the allies, were fighting in the north, and – when the novel begins – had been routed.

Molesini (who teaches comparative literature at the University of Padua and lives in Venice) has created a microcosm of village society to show a spectrum of reactions to occupation by the  enemy.  The novel is narrated by Paolo Spada, seventeen years old and coming of age at a time when his family is humiliated and they are all trying to adapt to the new situation.  He sees his world through the perspective of an adolescent becoming interested in girls, and of wanting to have adventure and join the covert fight against the enemy.

Paolo’s parents are dead, so he lives with his eccentric grandparents, Signor Gugliemo Spada and Signora Nancy, and his Aunt Maria.  Although not titled, they are the aristocracy of the village, and until the occupation, they lived a gracious life, their comfort and their ‘standards’ maintained for them by their devoted servant Teresa and her resentful daughter Loretta.  As part of the household there is also an enigmatic steward called Renato, and an attractive woman called Guilia, who is in her mid-twenties.

Don Lorenzo administers to the spiritual needs of the town and runs the school with an iron rod, but the occupants of the villa mostly have no time for priests.  Grandpa fancies himself as an author and quotes the Buddha; Grandma takes lovers who are referred to by number – The First Paramour, the Second, and the Third.   Paolo himself would like Guilia to be his lover, but she mocks his youth and appears to be having a relationship with Renato.

But in a novel of occupation, it’s the relationship with the occupiers that is transformative.  The Germans arrive first, announcing that they are requisitioning the villa.  Although superficially polite, they displace the ordered life of centuries, and they loot without restraint.  Teresa, the devoted servant, is outraged on the family’s behalf.  She is a snob, and she resents having to serve people who are not of the same class as her employers.  But not everyone is unhappy about the family’s humiliation: Loretta takes grim satisfaction in seeing the family reduced to eating the same food as the servants, and she takes delight now in petty acts of contempt such as careless ironing of their remaining linen.

As for Paolo, well, the war brings the adventure that he craves and the secret prestige of being asked to join Renato’s resistance activities, helping to rescue a British airman called Brian.  He has always loved Grandpa and his stories and he enjoys the bickering between his grandparents, but part of his coming-of-age is to recognise that Grandpa’s cynicism is a mask for impotence.  It is Grandma who stands up for family values, not the old man, an irony which becomes more poignant in the tragic conclusion of the story.

At first the war is far away, and one of the main combatants is the river Piave, which is impossible to cross when it’s in flood.  For the village, there is a sad moment when the Germans loot the ancient church bell, which is not just the voice of the church, but also the village voice which has announced births, marriages and deaths for as long as anyone can remember.  But (as a consequence of military/political events far away) when the Austrians replace the Germans, war suddenly arrives on their doorstep and the cast of characters are confronted by the cruel reality of ruined men and their appalling injuries.  At first Paolo wanders about in the carnage, viewing how others rise to the occasion, or don’t, but eventually he too lends a hand with the wounded who fill the church, the grounds, and eventually the villa itself.

It is at this time that resistance activities become more serious, and the family has to decide whether to heed the warning of the Austrian Baron in command.  He knows that the family is involved in covert activities, and although he and Aunt Maria are attracted to each other, his values demand that he does his duty.  The penalty for helping the allies is hanging, and the family learns just how little their social position means when their pleas for a dignified death for a deserter fail.  Knowing what the likely penalties will be for themselves, they then have to decide what their values really mean.

All of us reading this novel now know that the First World War changed societies across the globe.  In Europe and Britain part of that change meant a loss of power, money and status for aristocracies.  Through Paolo’s coming-of-age, we can see the future coming.

Author: Andrea Molesino
Title: Between Enemies
Publisher: Atlantic Books, 2015
ISBN: 9780857897954
Review copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin


Fishpond: Between Enemies


Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 24, 2015

Thank you…

This is just a quick note to say thank you for your condolences.  I really am quite overwhelmed by your kind thoughts.  When I wrote my blog post I was just thinking of letting people know why I wasn’t as active online as I usually am; I didn’t want virtual friends that I care about to feel that I was no longer interested in their blogging.  It was not easy to explain why I needed time out because I’m a private person and most people even in my f2f life didn’t know that my mother had been gravely ill since the beginning of the year.

I didn’t consider what sort of response there might be, and I didn’t even look at my blog.  But I had to keep checking my email to keep in touch with loved ones far away and (because my blog is set to notify me about comments) I began to see your kind words appearing, and I found them a great consolation.

I am back home in Melbourne now, and although I’m not quite on top of things yet, and caring for my bereft father is now my top priority, I have started reading again, and as you will soon see, I have written my first review…


Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 23, 2015

2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards Shortlist

For more information about the awards, click here.




  • Devadatta’s Poems (Judith Beveridge, Giramondo)
  • Exhibits of the Sun (Stephen Edgar, Black Pepper)
  • Poems 1957-2013 (Geoffrey Lehmann, UWA Publishing)
  • Earth Hour (David Malouf, UQP)
  • Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems (Alex Skovron, Puncher & Wattmann)



  • John Olsen: An Artist’s Life (Darleen Bungey, HarperCollins)
  • Private Bill (Barrie Cassidy, MUP)
  • This House of Grief (Helen Garner, Text)
  • Encountering the Pacific: In the Age of Enlightenment (John Gascoigne, Cambridge University Press)
  • Wild Bleak Bohemia: Marcus Clarke, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall (Michael Wilding, Australian Scholarly Publishing)


Australian history

  • The Europeans in Australia: Volume Three: Nation (Alan Atkinson, NewSouth)
  • Descent into Hell (Peter Brune, A&U)
  • Charles Bean (Ross Coulthart, HarperCollins)
  • Menzies at War (Anne Henderson, NewSouth)
  • The Spy Catchers: The Official History of ASIO Vol 1 (David Horner, A&U)


Young adult fiction

  • Are You Seeing Me? (Darren Groth, Woolshed Press)
  • The Astrologer’s Daughter (Rebecca Lim, Text)
  • Tigers on the Beach (Doug MacLeod, Penguin)
  • The Minnow (Diana Sweeney, Text)
  • The Protected (Claire Zorn, UQP)


Children’s fiction

  • Two Wolves (Tristan Bancks, Random House)
  • My Dad is a Bear (Nicola Connelly, illus by Annie White, New Frontier)
  • My Two Blankets (Irena Kobald, illus by Freya Blackwood, Little Hare)
  • One Minute’s Silence (David Metzenthen, illus by Michael Camilleri, A&U)
  • Withering-by-Sea (Judith Rossell, ABC Books).
Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 19, 2015

The Show Goes On (Stonnington Literary Festival)

This is just a quick post to thank you all for your very kind thoughts, I can’t tell you how heart-warming it is to be part of a wonderful community of readers shining a light in a world that can seem dark sometimes!

But also to let you know that I will be flying back home in time to host my session at the Stonnington Literary Festival this coming Sunday as planned. My mother wouldn’t expect anything less.

(She was inordinately proud of me and my little blog, and was rather chuffed about my new ‘career’ as a literary festival panellist. If there is a Great Library in the Sky, she will be watching to see that ‘the show goes on’.)

Once again, thank you all!

Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 18, 2015

Taking a break

My mother died this morning, so I am taking a break for a while.
I will be back when I feel up to it.

PS I am reading your kind thoughts because they come through on my email, but am a bit too weepy to reply right now. Thank you all

Interestingly EnoughI always enjoy reading literary biographies, but Interestingly Enough, the life of Tom Keneally is the first one I’ve read about a still living author.  It’s a testament to Keneally’s place in Australia’s literary culture as a popular author of literary fiction that it’s hit the bookshelves while he’s still writing.  (Just last week, I bought his latest, Napoleon’s Last Island).  It can be a disadvantage to write a biography with the subject ‘looking over one’s shoulder’ and I suspect that there’s more to know about Keneally than Stephany Evans Steggall has been able to tell, but it’s an interesting life story all the same.

Like Graham Greene, Keneally is an author often tagged by Catholicism: the biography begins by unpacking what might have been if Keneally had not realised he was not cut out for the priesthood and had not had the courage to leave before his final ordination in 1961.  This experience was a searing one, and even a casual reader could see that in his early books he wrote to advance from indoctrination to individuality (p.82).  Keneally, understandably, felt some bitterness at the way he was treated when he left the seminary.  Refused so much as a reference to help him on his way, he later wrote an article called ‘The Humanist Priest’ in 1969 in which he painted an unflattering portrait of his bishop:

When he left the seminary, he explained, he had no clothes other than black, no money, no training, no job.  ‘In the latter matter, I approached His Lordship Bishop Muldoon and was referred to the local Commonwealth Employment Agency and the employment columns of Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald.’ (p. 87)

The Place at Whitton (audio book)Omitted from Keneally’s article was any mention of Bishop Muldoon’s recognition of his potential as an author: the details appear to be a matter of dispute.  According to critic Gloria Moore in 1994, Bishop Muldoon arranged for Richard Connolly who was with the ABC in Sydney to read Keneally’s first novel (The Place at Whitton) but Connolly wasn’t encouraging.  Connolly, who says he was chosen as Keneally’s advisor because he had a similar experience of leaving the seminary, has no memory of reading a draft novel, and Keneally’s recollection is that he started the novel later and gave the first chapter of it for typing to a family friend, Shirley Yates.  In this version Yates and her husband read it with enthusiasm and wanted the next chapter but Keneally hadn’t yet written it.  Whether or not Bishop Muldoon encouraged Keneally’s writing but hasn’t been acknowledged for that is one issue, and the other is the timing of the writing of that first novel.  The idea of Keneally writing The Place at Whitton while still engaged in onerous study at the seminary is rather striking.

(It’s also quite striking to see Keneally describe that book as

‘a genuine catastrophe of technique’, an enterprise to which he took with ‘great gusto and heroic cackhandedness, and the essential though ill-informed confidence of the young’  It was a rather improbable yarn with ‘fairly passable pastiches of the last person I had read Here was Patrick White, over there Graham Greene; here Wallace Stevens, over there an inadvisably lush rework of Dylan Thomas.’  He relied on the deus ex machina, the convenient event that tied everything up.  (p. 89)

(See my review to see what I thought of it!)

Bring Larks and HeroesThree Cheers for the ParacleteAnyway, whatever about the timing of the writing of his debut novel,  Keneally tackled various jobs including collecting insurance money and school teaching to support himself in his early writing career.  However, his scruples led him to resign from teaching when The Place at Whitton was published in 1964 because its critique of the seminary might bring negative publicity to the school.  The Place at Whitton was followed by The Fear, another semi-autobiographical novel, in 1965, (the year in which he married Judy Martin) and by Bring Larks and Heroes which won the Miles Franklin Award in 1967.  Three Cheers for the Paraclete was published in 1968 and won the Miles Franklin again.  All these novels are characterised by dilemmas of conscience and questions of moral correctness (p.103) which were live issues for Catholics during the modernising period of Vatican II (1962-65).

These early works prefigure the paradoxes which characterise Keneally’s work.  He likes to place characters in extreme situations where their humanity is tested:

‘Paradox is beloved of novelists.  The despised saviour, the humane whore, the selfish man suddenly munificent, the wise fool and the cowardly hero.’ (p.215)

Gaining recognition for his skill with the written word enhanced Keneally. ‘I loved that phenomenon of being published and, I’ve got to say quite frankly, of being praised,’ he later admitted.  ‘Writers never say these things.  They never say, ‘I wrote it because I wanted to be praised.’ But it’s one of the chief motivations… it’s like the priesthood – a combination of banal and glorious motives.’ (p. 83)  Conversely, he took criticism badly, and the biography includes more than one missive of outrage to various reviewers…

Schindler's ArkTravails with agents and publishers are crucial matters to authors, (and were also covered extensively in Karen Lamb’s recent bio Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather, see my review) but I found them less interesting to read about than Steggall’s coverage of the genesis of Keneally’s books that I’d read.  I’m also keen to read some of the others that Steggall so temptingly describes.  This is what I really like about well-written literary biography: the analysis of an author’s oeuvre so that I am left wanting to read more of it.

The research Keneally does is extensive, and there have been a couple of times when he’s got himself into a bit of trouble with people who are recognisable in his novels.  A recent example was his portrayal of Alice the journalist in The Tyrant’s Novel (2003), a character who was so like the journalist Caroline Baum that when he was tackled about it and asked why he hadn’t given the character a different identity, all he could do was to tell her ruefully that he wished he had:

‘Gee, that never occurred to me, but now that you mention it, I wish I had.  To me, the moment she became Alice she was no longer you.’  (p. 336-7)

(But Keneally isn’t the first writer to test friendships through true-to-life characterisations!)

There was also some criticism that he shouldn’t have won the Booker for Schindler’s Ark because it’s ‘faction’ – I read it so long ago I can’t comment on that aspect –  I don’t even have a reading journal for that period.  But I was very impressed by the authenticity of the film, which was titled Schindler’s List and directed by Stephen Spielberg, so I was interested to see that Keneally questioned his role as its author both before and after its phenomenal success.

The euphoria that always came with the promise of a good story was replaced about doubts.  Keneally could list various objections to writing this particular book, among them his ignorance about the Jews and what they had suffered.  The book should be written by  Jew, he reasoned. in the same way that an Aboriginal author should have written The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972). The research for the task would be formidable.  Would Schindler – a carouser, black marketeer and Nazi collaborator, and a sexually voracious man – dominate the story at the expense of those who had suffered so much, despite his intervention? In other words, whose story was it: his or theirs?

Fifteen years later, after the book had sold millions of copies and the memorable movie had been made, Keneally was still fielding questions about Schindler.  ‘If I were presented with the Schindler story now,’ he admitted to one journalist, ‘I would be asking: ‘What do I know about Jews? What do I know about Europe?’ He often had to defend the book against those who doubted its veracity or his right to it. ‘The history of literature,’ Salman Rushdie has said, is one in which writers have defended their work and I was not going to be the one who didn’t.’ Nor was Keneally, but the lives of both writers were dogged by the books that brought them the most fame: Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark. (p.217)

Keneally has some interesting advice for writers:

Keneally has said repeatedly that it is the writers who are hungriest for publication, and not necessarily the best, who will see their books in print.  Writers must have that lust for the published work.  As a teacher he could offer direction, confidence and contacts, but he had little to teach a naturally gifted writer.  ‘The greatest problem with writers of talent is commitment… the writers, both at NYU and UCL, who’ve been published are often the most motivated and the bravest…It’s amazing to me that the ultimate factor in the success of these young writers is temperament.  He warned the students against envy of other writers, telling them it was the worst disease for writers.  ‘It will make you a savage person and it will demean your own writing…don’t think that any one writer’s glory in any way diminishes your own… there can be umpteen splendid novels.’ (p. 285)

Well, certainly Keneally has written ‘umpteen splendid novels’ himself, and this comprehensive biography is an enticement to read more of them.  At 400-odd pages, it’s a fascinating story, thoroughly researched using Keneally’s papers at the National Library of Australia and also interviews with Keneally himself.  It includes B&W and colour photos, endnotes for each chapter, a list of works and an index as well.

You can listen to Michael Cathcart’s interview with the author on Radio National.  Thanks to Pam from Travellin’ Penguin for bringing my attention to it.

Author: Stefany Evans Steggall
Title: Interestingly Enoough, the life of Tom Keneally
Publisher: Nero Books, an imprint of Schwartz Media, 2015
ISBN: 9781863957588
Source: Review copy courtesy of Black Inc Books

Fishpond: Interestingly Enough…: The Life of Tom Keneally

The List of My Desires I’m reading LiteratureLite at the moment because I need something else that’s new to read while I’m re-reading the books for my session on November 22 at the Stonnington [Untitled] Literary Festival.  (I finished Angela Meyer’s Captives last week, and I’ve just finished Jane Rawson’s award-winning A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (see my previous review and a Sensational Snippet) and I’m just about to start Alec Patric’s Black Rock White City (see my review). (There are still some tickets left if you want to come, but you’d better book soon. It’s free, click here.)

So, The List of My Desires, the ‘international bestselling sensation’ by French author Grégoire Delacourt, appealed to me a when I stumbled on it at the library.  It had the added attraction of being translated by Anthea Bell, who is pre-eminent in her field.

It’s a curious blend of the sentimental and the cynical, written from a female point-of-view by a male author.  I have reservations about this narration which necessitate spoilers…


The novel is the story of a plump, placid haberdasher called Jocelyne who wins 18 million-odd euros from a chance entry in the lottery and is betrayed by her husband.  Before the win, she is reasonably content with her ordinary life, and because of the dire warnings from lottery management about the pitfalls of such a large win, she chooses not to tell Jo, her husband, and hides the cheque in a shoe in her wardrobe.  While she draws up lists of potential purchases with her windfall, her husband finds the cheque and disappears with it to buy the things he’s always wanted (posh car, expensive watch, a big TV etc).  She grows bitter, loses weight, abandons her shop and her thriving craft blog, and mooches about feeling betrayed and melancholy until eventually she gets a cheque for the balance of 15 million-odd euros from her sadder-and-wiser husband and makes a new life for herself.  The book concludes with her statement that she is loved, but that she herself no longer loves.

The sentimental, anti-consumerist, be-happy-with-your-lot message that money can’t buy happiness is laid on thick:

I loved my life.  I loved the life that Jo and I had made.  I loved the way that ordinary things became beautiful in our eyes.  I loved our simple, comfortable, friendly house.  I loved our garden, our modest little vegetable plot, the pathetic tomatoes on the vine it gave us.  I loved hoeing the frozen ground with my husband.  I loved our dreams of next spring. I was waiting with all the enthusiasm of a young mother to be a grandmother one day; I tried my hand at lavish cakes, gourmet pancakes, rich chocolate desserts. I wanted to have the scents of my own childhood in our house, with different photographs on the wall.  (p.144)

She loves her virtual world too:

I loved my thousands of Isoldes who read tengoldfingers. I loved their kindness, calm and powerful like a river flowing along, a regenerating force like a mother’s love. I loved that community of women, our vulnerabilities, our strengths.

I loved my life deeply, but the moment that I won the lottery I knew that the money would wreck it all, and for what?

But notice here how ungenerous this list of potential purchases is?  Wanting is a character flaw in this novel, and the wants are all banal and insular:

For a bigger vegetable plot? Larger, redder tomatoes? A new variety of tangerine? A larger, more luxurious house; a whirlpool bath? A Porsche Cayenne?  A round-the-world cruise? A gold watch, diamonds? Enhanced breasts? A nose job? No, no and no again. I already had what money can’t buy but can only destroy. (p. 145)

Imagine having 18 million euros and not thinking of the good you could do with it!  She plans to burn the cheque rather than do something useful with all that money… Sure, she does consider that she could do something for her children, and with her remaining 15 million at the end of the book she plans eventually to give one million of it to someone at random, but there’s no plan to endow a worthwhile fund or donate to charity in France or anywhere else.

The happiness that Jocelyne eulogises seems an authorial fantasy to me.  The reason why she rejects the money is because she doesn’t trust this husband, not even enough to tell him about it.  He has, at times, been brutal and cruel, and she’s tolerated it.  Theirs is not a marriage of equals: she is smarter than him and has more initiative.  She doesn’t see her adult children much: the boy left after a row and hasn’t been seen since, and the daughter lives in London.   She is haunted by memories of her mother’s sudden death in the street, and her father is senile in a nursing home and barely knows who she is.  A lot of her life is dull and compromised…

So, we have an author who creates a portrait purporting to be inside the mind of a devoted wife who fears that the flaws in her husband will lead to misery if they have money.  His character Jocelyn is a wife with brains and initiative who forgives a brutal man because she still loves him despite his vanity, his cruelty, his selfish wants and his inane conversation.  The man, set up to fail, does so, and is punished with a distasteful death.  This is kitsch-lit, IMO, contrived to give book groups something to discuss – and lo! there are the questions at the back of the book…

  • What would you have done if you were in Jocelyn’s shoes? If you had cashed the cheque, what would you have spent the money on?
  • How would you describe Jocelyn’s relationship with her husband, Jo?
  • Why is Jo unfulfilled by his new life as a millionaire?

As LiteratureLite, The List of My Desires is ok, but I wouldn’t want to belong to any book club that chose it or wanted to waste time discussing banal questions like these!  It is a bit dispiriting to think that the country where Zola was a bestselling author is reduced to reading lack-lustre stuff like this…

Louise at A Strong Belief in Wicker reviewed it too.

Author: Grégoire Delacourt
Title: The List of My Desires
Publisher: Orion Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781780224251
Source: Kingston Library


Fishpond: The List of My Desires

Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 12, 2015

Last Day in the Dynamite Factory, by Annah Faulkner

Last Day at the Dynamite Factory

Last Day in the Dynamite Factory is an intriguing title, the book was shortlisted for the Readings Prize for New Australian Literature and it’s the second novel of Annah Faulkner, who was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin for The Beloved.  That was an interesting debut novel set partly in New Guinea (see my review) and I liked the well-rounded characterisation of a person with a disability, so I added the book to the (a-hem) ‘small’ pile on a recent visit to my favourite local bookstore…

The book does itself no favours with its rather long-winded introduction.  Janine at The Resident Judge of Port Phillip got fed up with it and stopped reading, and as you can see from my somewhat impatient comment there, I was irritated by what seemed to be yet another insular ‘relationship’ novel, this time featuring a privileged white male having a mid-life identity crisis.


I’m glad I pressed on.  While I still don’t understand the preoccupation with finding out family secrets (a preoccupation that featured in The Beloved too), the novel becomes more intricate and absorbing when conservation architect Christopher Bright begins to question his own life in the light of the epitaph on his mother’s grave:

‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’
John 10:10.

Life. Abundantly.

Alice’s life: short but abundant – career, love and sacrifice, all lived to the hilt.  There’s nothing to regret about her life except its ending.  Chris can’t remember his mother’s face, the colour of her eyes or her smile.  He has no memory of her touch, her voice, or what she smelled like, but her life is in those words.  He presses his fingers to his lips and touches them to the cold marble.  He doesn’t want to leave her here.  He wants to take her from this place of the dead and carry her home in the pocket over his heart.  (p. 209)

Chris doesn’t have a ‘conversion on the road to Damascus’ that leads to a major redefinition of his values, but I enjoyed reading his struggle to sort out how he can be true to himself (another preoccupation that underlies The Beloved).  He’s a flawed human-being who does some very stupid and unkind things to his devoted but emotionally crippled wife, to his partner ‘Judge’ and his employee Tabi, and to Ben, a man with whom his relationship is clouded by past events, secrets and lies.   It was a pleasure to see Roberta (Bertie) – the child disabled by polio in The Beloved – recreated as an adult so comfortable in her own skin, and I also enjoyed the discussion around architectural issues.  Architecture is always good for stirring up strongly-held opinions and I think book groups would enjoy discussing whether heritage buildings should be conserved exactly as they were (What? even if they were poky, dark and had an outdoor loo?); should be reinterpreted to reference all the stages in the building’s history (Yikes, even the 1960s?)  or should be razed to the ground in favour of innovative and sustainable construction (Oh, no what about the streetscape!)

Annah Faulkner has a gift for evoking the landscape, even succeeding in making tawdry urbanised places seem attractive by focussing on the beauty that even the high rise apartments can’t destroy:

The following evening he stands on the balcony of his unit.  It’s cold but the view is distracting and distraction is what he seeks.  The river is as different as the ocean as whisky is from wine.  The sea hurls itself at mother earth with the insistence of a toddler; the river fingers her banks in silence.  Shadows creep over the foreshore and cross streets, snake between buildings and lick walls with black tongues.  The lights of Brisbane have swallowed the stars and overlaid the river with rippling, blinking neons.  Gay greens, brilliant blues and saucy reds dance across her inscrutable face.  (p.287)

The unspoiled beach block fantasy makes an appearance but Faulkner avoids a trite ending with enough ambiguity about the future of her characters to satisfy.  In fact, I’m going to make a cheeky prediction: I won’t be surprised if Phoebe, Chris Bright’s daughter who is also an architect, turns up in a novel to come…

Author: Annah Faulkner
Title: Last Day at the Dynamite Factory
Publisher: Picador, 2015
ISBN: 9781743535998
Source: personal library, purchased from Benn’s Books Bentleigh, $32.99


Fishpond: Last Day in the Dynamite Factory

I’m just home from the awards presentation for the 2015 Melbourne Prize for Literature!  It was a splendid occasion, a great gathering of Melbourne’s literary community, and definitely a night to remember.

The winner of the Writers’ Prize and the residency at the University of Melbourne’s School of Culture & Communications is Kate Ryan, for her essay Psychotherapy for Normal People (which you can read online);

The winner of the Best Writing Prize is Andrea Goldsmith, for her novel The Memory Trap (see my review and a Sensational Snippet); and

*drum roll

The winner of the Melbourne Prize for Literature is eminent poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe.  Congratulations to the judges for choosing a poet to win this major prize because it doesn’t happen often!  You can read some of Wallace-Crabbe’s poetry at the Australian Poetry Library.  (BTW I see from his bio there that he has also written a novel called Splinters, so of course I’m now on a quest to track down a copy).

You can see a picture of the happy winners and the judges here.  (Andrea Goldsmith is overseas.)

Melbourne is very lucky to have had Simon Warrender take the initiative to set up this wonderful prize.  He said tonight that philanthropy is a form of community engagement and it’s wonderful to see generous support coming from many sectors to enhance Melbourne’s standing as a UNESCO City of Literature.  You can see the list of patrons on the Melbourne Prize Trust website.

(If you’d like to support the Melbourne Prize with a tax-deductible donation too, contact the Melbourne Prize Trust.  Donations large and small are welcome!)

You can visit the Melbourne Prize Finalists Exhibition in Federation Square until November 23rd – and you can vote for the Civic Choice award either at the exhibition or online.

Finalists’ books are all available from Readings Bookstores.


Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 10, 2015

Aussie and Kiwi Books on the Dublin Literary Award Longlist

It’s very late here now, so I hope I haven’t missed any, but there are the Aussie and Kiwi titles that I spotted on the Dublin Literary Award longlist:

  • The Strays by Emily Bitto (see my review)
  • Lost and Found by Brooke Davis (see Karenlee Thompson’s review)
  • The Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett
  • The Claimant by Janet Turner Hospital
  • The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna
  • The Golden Age by Joan London (see my review)
  • Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa

And from New Zealand:

  • The Bright Side of My Condition by Charlotte Randall (see my review)
  • Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings by Tina Makereti
Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 9, 2015

2015 Melbourne Prize Shortlisted Essays Now Online

It’s only a couple of days now until the announcement of the 2015 Melbourne Prize for Literature, and the five essays shortlisted for the Writers Prize are now available to read online, thanks to the Melbourne Prize Trust and the Griffith Review.

The Writers Prize 2015 is a new category this year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the annual Melbourne Prize.   Entrants to the Writers Prize 2015 submitted an essay of up to 20,000 words (minimum 10,000 words), and the essay had to include Melbourne, Victoria or Australia as part of its subject.

Click on this link and scroll down to the section about the Writers Prize 2015 finalists and essays where you can download the essays as a pdf eBookThe shortlisted essays are

Robyn Annear, Places Without Poetry
Nick Gadd, The unconscious of the city
Kate Ryan, Psychotherapy for Normal People
David Sornig, Jubilee: a hymn for Elsie Williams on Dudley Flats
Maria Tumarkin, No Skin

To save you clicking through to previous posts, this is the shortlist for the Best Writing Prize:

James Button, Speechless A year in my father’s business MUP, 2012, see the review in the SMH
Patricia Cornelius, Savages, Playlab 2014, see a review in The Australian
Andrea Goldsmith, The Memory Trap, Fourth Estate 2014, see my review and a Sensational Snippet
Gideon Haigh, On Warne, Penguin Books 2012, see a review at The Monthly
Daniel Keene, Mother, Currency Press 2015, see a review at the SMH
Alex Miller, Coal Creek, Allen & Unwin 2013, see my review
John Safran, Murder in Mississippi, Penguin Books 2013, see a review at The Australian
Maria Takolander, The Double, Text Publishing 2013, see Karenlee Thompson’s guest review
Abigail Ulman, Hot Little Hands, Hamish Hamilton Penguin Books, 2015, see a review at the SMH
Don Watson, The Bush, Hamish Hamilton Penguin Books, 2014, see a review at The Guardian

and this is the shortlist for the Melbourne Prize for Literature:

Steven Carroll, see my review of Spirit of Progress and a Sensational Snippet
Brenda Niall, see my review of Mannix
Christos Tsiolkas, see my review of The Slap and The Guardian’s review of Merciless Gods
Chris Wallace-Crabbe, read some of his poems at The Australian Poetry Library
Alexis Wright, see my review of The Swan Book   

Click on this link to visit Readings for the Melbourne Prize for Literature 2015 finalist’s books.

Click on this link to visit Readings for the Best Writing Award 2015 finalist’s books.

Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 8, 2015

Charades, by Janette Turner Hospital

CharadesUQP have reissued some treasures in their Modern Classics series: there are six so far, noticeably all by female authors – Gillian Mears, Olga Masters (see my review of Loving Daughters), Elizabeth Jolley, Kate Grenville, Thea Astley (see my review of A Descant for Gossips) and now Janette Turner Hospital.

Janette Turner Hospital was born in Queensland in 1942, but she has lived in the US and Canada for most of her adult life.  From her ten novels, I had previously read two: Due Preparations for the Plague (2003) and Orpheus Lost (2007) so I was pleased to see the re-release of Charades.  It’s a most interesting book, artful in its construction and yet sincere in its treatment of lost souls.

Charade Ryan is a young woman in search of her father Nicholas Truman, and it is she who seduces her lover Professor Koenig with Scheherazade-like tales in order that he might tell her what she wants to know.  All she knows of Nicholas is scraps of memory and imagination, but from her own cuckoo-like existence she knows that he was not like her mother’s other men.

My mum – Bea Ryan, the slut of the Tamborine Mountain, Queen Bea, Honey Bea, that Bloody Breeder B. – my mum would stare and shake her head.  Never seen anything like it, she would say.  There were always brothers and sisters, older and younger, falling all over each other and me.  There were always the men, stopping by to have a beer with my mum.  It was a small and noisy place, a fibro shack with lizards on the walls, and cracks and holes that were hung with sacs of spiders’ eggs. But I would wedge myself into a corner, two sides protected, crosslegged on the floor, a book propped open on my knees, and I wouldn’t even deign to acknowledge the company.

How’d you get that one, Honey Bea? the men would laugh.  Been fooling around with a cyclo-pee-dia, have ya? That accounts for her hair, they would say.  (It stuck out in all directions like the pages of a riffled book; it was fair and my mum’s was dark.)  This is the little cuckoo in your nest? there was always someone to ask; and that someone always got rapped on the knuckles by Bea.   Uh-oh, they would laugh.  Cutting close to the bone, is it? Whyn’t you ever come clean on this, Bea?  (p.46)

From her mother Charade learns not to mind men, and how to handle them.  Or so she thinks.  Charade tells so many stories, sometimes the same story but in a Version 2, that the reader has no idea what to believe.  But that is true of Charade as well: she is equally lost in a swirl of stories about herself and her family.

Anyway, with Koenig she begins an entirely pragmatic relationship.  She entertains him with her body and her stories so that she can find her father, the man with whom she is obsessed although he has never been more than a wisp of an idea in her life.  Charade is not the only obsessive in the novel: Katherine Sussex is also obsessed with Nicholas, although she knew from the gossip that (like Koenig) he slept around.  Koenig is obsessed with his ex-wife Rachel.  The only one not obsessed is Bea, who takes life as she finds it. And perhaps not the elusive Nicholas.

The trail is fun to read, especially when Charade makes her way to England where she meets Nicholas’s two eccentric aunts.  Masterpieces of characterisation, they are jaunty snobs who delight in their wayward nephew’s additions to the family tree.   But there is also a serious thread: Koenig’s ex-wife Rachel cannot be like Bea and just take life as it comes because she is a Holocaust survivor who has to conquer her agoraphobia in order to testify against Holocaust denier Zundel. The image of this haunted woman hiding in her wardrobe writing letters to relations all murdered is horrific.

Charades is challenging to read.  Using physics as a persistent metaphor risks alienating the uninitiated, but Hospital does it playfully, and most of the time it worked for me.  The novel begins with Charade mocking Professor Koenig’s academic writing, and as she shakes his hand currents pass back and forth and he thinks of quarks and uneven fractional charges.  This is a man whose field of scholarly inquiry is the first second after time began but he is so hopelessly flawed that even his predatory behaviour towards his female students seems illusory.  Were there enough female students of quantum physics in those days for the legends to be true? Whatever about that, real time – that is, the time that you and I exist in – is, after all, catching up with him.  Even as he discusses energy densities he’s becoming a grubby old man with spots of sauce on his corduroy pants.  And like Charade, he is beginning to find that not believing in love is an illusion.

The prose is luscious.  I don’t know where in the world the author was when she wrote it but it seems as if the Queensland rainforest must have been right outside her open window.  The lush tropics permeate the novel while the scenes in Canada, the US and the UK seem pallid by comparison, and the dialogue is quintessentially Aussie.  Amongst other gems, there’s a droll moment when Charade lectures Koenig about how to pronounce her name:

‘By the way, you keep mispronouncing my name.  It’s Shuh-rahd. I hope you don’t mind me pointing it out.  It’s because Americans mispronounce the word itself.  The word charade, I mean.  The proper way, well, the Brit way, which is much the same thing isn’t it?  Is the way I say my name.’

And Hospital has the elements of a campus novel firmly in her sights too:

Koenig is aware of a rising sexual excitement, its origins murky.  He is dimly conscious that it has something to do with the provocation of a woman who does not seem aware of his … well, standing in the scientific community.  (Only last week a woman he had met at a Wellesley dinner party wrote a note inviting him for dinner and postcoital champagne.  When she telephoned she said there was an aura about him.)  Of course this kind of thing is tiresome.
Has Charade Ryan no awe at all?  (p.17)

If you need further convincing about Charades, see this collection of reviews on the author’s web page.

Author: Janette Turner Hospital
Title: Charades
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press), 2015
ISBN 9870702253850
Review copy courtesy of UQP


Fishpond: Charades (UQP Modern Classics

Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 7, 2015

Book Giveaway: First Person Shooter, by Cameron Raynes

First-Person-ShooterRegular readers of this blog might remember a previous giveaway of The Colour of Kerosene and Other Stories by Cameron Raynes, a collection of short stories which was very favourably reviewed by The Australian, so I am delighted to have the opportunity to offer a giveaway Advance Readers Copy of his YA/Adult crossover debut novel, First Person Shooter.

This is the blurb from Midnight Sun Publishing (a small indie publisher in Adelaide):

Jayden lives with his father on the edge of a small country town. He stutters and is addicted to video games.

His best friend Shannon knows how to handle a rifle. When her mum is released from prison, the town waits to see whether her sociopathic stepson Pete will exact revenge for the manslaughter of his father.

Caught with ammunition at school and suspended, Jayden’s world disintegrates. As a drug war erupts, Pete gears up for his violent assault.

Will it be left to Jayden to stop him?

To find out about Cameron’s other books, visit his blog or find him and the book on Facebook.


Be in it to win it!  Anyone with an Australian postal address is eligible.  Please indicate your interest in the Comments box below and I’ll select a winner using a random generator round about the end of this month.

All entries from readers with an Australian postcode for delivery will be eligible but it is a condition of entry that if you are the winner, you must contact me with a postal address by the deadline that will be specified in the blog post that announces the winner.   (I’ll redraw if this deadline isn’t met).

Good luck!

PS This giveaway is for an ARC (Advance Readers Copy).  First Person Shooter (260 pp, paperback & ebook) is due for release in February 2016, via

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