27th May 2020
Spotlight on Aussie Authors
Sometimes we can forget how amazing Aussies really are. So to celebrate the fantastic authors that hail from the land down under, we have curated a list of iconic books (dare we say literary classics) that you may not have even realised were written by Australians!
Garth Nix is a hugely popular fantasy author. He was born in Melbourne, raised and studied in Canberra, and currently lives in Sydney.
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.
With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.
The icon-maker and angel-summoner Liliath, long believed dead, has woken from her century-long sleep to pick up the threads of a plan that has already destroyed one kingdom and may yet destroy another. To succeed, Liliath must bring together Agnez the musketeer, Simeon the doctor, Dorotea the mage, and Henri, one of the Cardinal’s clerks, and take them into utmost danger … Set in an alternative seventeenth century where angels can be summoned (and controlled) by those with a talent for magic, Angel Mage is an action-packed story of angels, heroes, gunpowder and high magic.
Melissa Lucashenko was born in Brisbane of European and Bundjalung heritage. Her writing has won the Miles Franklin award, Dobbie Literary Award, Queensland Literary Award, and more.
Too much lip, her old problem from way back. And the older she got, the harder it seemed to get to swallow her opinions. The avalanche of bullshit in the world would drown her if she let it; the least she could do was raise her voice in anger.Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley. Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble – but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name.Gritty and darkly hilarious, Too Much Lip offers redemption and forgiveness where none seems possible.
Mullumbimby (available on shelf but not online)
When Jo Breen uses her divorce settlement to buy a neglected property in the Byron Bay hinterland, she is hoping for a tree change, and a blossoming connection to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. What she discovers instead is sharp dissent from her teenage daughter, trouble brewing from unimpressed white neighbors, and a looming Native Title war between the local Bundjalung families. When Jo unexpectedly finds love on one side of the Native Title divide she quickly learns that living on country is only part of the recipe for the Good Life. Told with dark humor and a sharp, satirical eye, Mullumbimby is a modern novel about romantic love and cultural warfare set against an ancient land.
Liane Moriarty has become such a famous name, particularly since the hit US adaptations of her novels, that you may not know she is Australian! She lives in Sydney and has been writing books since she was a child.
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
Big Little Lies (available on shelf but not online)
A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the little lies that can turn lethal.
Marcus Zusak was born in Sydney to German-Austrian parents. He has become a household name around the globe, with his work translated into more than 40 languages
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.
That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.
That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.
Jay Kristoff was born in Perth, and currently lives in Melbourne with his dog Samwise. He has created 5 bestselling scifi & fantasy series in the last ten years.
Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents–including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more–Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.
Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.
But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.
Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.
Bruce Pascoe was born in Melbourne, and is a Koori man with ancestors from the Boon Wurrung, Yuin, and Palawa nations. His influential writing spans fiction, non-fiction, poetry, ecology, academic essays, and children’s literature.
Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Accomplished author Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.
Fog a Dox (available on shelf but not online)
Albert Cutts is a tree feller. A fella who cuts down trees. Fog is a fox cub raised by a dingo. He’s called a dox because people are suspicious of foxes and Albert Cutts owns the dingo and now the dox. Albert is a bushman and lives a remote life surrounded by animals and birds. All goes well until Albert has an accident. This is a story of courage, acceptance and respect. With a gentle storytelling style and finely crafted dialogue, Indigenous cultural knowledge and awareness are seamlessly integrated into the narrative.
Jackie French is a truly iconic – and prolific – Australian writer, with over 140 books and 60 awards under her belt. She is also a historian, ecologist, and gardener. French was born in Sydney, grew up in Brisbane, and now lives in rural NSW running a conservation refuge.
Inspired by true events, this is the story of how society’s ‘lovely ladies’ won a war.
Each year at secluded Shillings Hall, in the snow-crisped English countryside, the mysterious Miss Lily draws around her young women selected from Europe’s royal and most influential families. Her girls are taught how to captivate a man – and find a potential husband – at a dinner, in a salon, or at a grouse shoot, and in ways that would surprise outsiders. For in 1914, persuading and charming men is the only true power a woman has.
Sophie Higgs is the daughter of Australia’s king of corned beef and the only ‘colonial’ brought to Shillings Hall. Of all Miss Lily’s lovely ladies, however, she is also the only one who suspects Miss Lily’s true purpose.
As the chaos of war spreads, women across Europe shrug off etiquette. The lovely ladies and their less privileged sisters become the unacknowledged backbone of the war, creating hospitals, canteens and transport systems where bungling officials fail to cope. And when tens of thousands can die in a single day’s battle, Sophie must use the skills Miss Lily taught her to prevent war’s most devastating weapon yet.
But is Miss Lily heroine or traitor? And who, exactly, is she?
In 1894, twelve-year-old Matilda flees the city slums to find her unknown father and his farm. But drought grips the land, and the shearers are on strike. Her father has turned swaggie and he’s wanted by the troopers. In front of his terrified daughter, he makes a stand against them, defiant to the last. ′You′ll never catch me alive, said he…′
Set against a backdrop of bushfire, flood, war and jubilation, this is the story of one girl’s journey towards independence. It is also the story of others who had no vote and very little but their dreams.
Drawing on the well-known poem by A.B. Paterson and from events rooted in actual history, this is the untold story behind Australia′s early years as an emerging nation.
Emily Rodda was born and raised on Sydney’s North Shore, and has been writing beloved children’s and YA fiction since the 80s. She also writes crime novels under her birth name, Jennifer Rowe.
Deltora is a land of monsters and magic …
The evil Shadow Lord is plotting to invade Deltora and enslave its people. All that stands against him is the magic Belt of Deltora with its seven gems of great and mysterious power. When the gems are stolen and hidden in dark terrible places throughout the kingdom, the Shadow Lord triumphs, and Deltora is lost.
In secrecy, with only a hand-drawn map to guide them, two unlikely companions set out on a perilous quest. Determined to find the lost gems and rid their land of the tyrant, they struggle towards their first goal – the sinister Forests of Silence.
The day that Leo Zifkak became the owner of the music box, his life changed forever.
Leo didn’t know this at the time. His heart didn’t miss a beat as he took the box calmly from his mother and put it on his desk. He had no idea what he was holding in his hands. The old music box has its rules, carefully handed down through the generations in Leo’s family.
A long-ago ancestor called Rollo had brought it back from one of his world trips. It had a plain black shiny lid, but its sides were painted with detailed scenes of a town, a castle on a hill, a queen in a long blue gown. Those who had owned it before Leo understood its powers well, and placed strict limits on its use.
But now it is Leo’s music box, and although he respects the rules, his least favourite cousin Mimi Langlander does not. When the rules are flouted and the Blue Queen appears and takes Mimi’s dog Mutt back to the world of Rondo, Leo finds himself on an alarming quest to retrieve him, with the disagreeable Mimi at his side.
John Marsden is surely one of the most influential Australian authors, and has won every major writing award in Australia for young people’s fiction. Born in Victoria, he also runs several alternative schools in the Macedon Ranges and patronises many youth writing programs.
When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong — their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.
“Dear Tracey I don’t know why I’m answering your ad, to be honest. It’s not like I’m into pen pals, but it’s a boring Sunday here, everyone’s out, and I thought it’d be something different… Dear Mandy Thanks for writing. You write so well, much better than me.”
Mandy wants a pen-pal. Tracey answers the ad. The two girls write to each other about their families, their lives, their ambitions and their fears. But there are dark secrets surrounding Mandy and Tracey – secrets they can hardly bear to confront, let alone share.
Ambelin Kwaymullina is a Palyku woman of Western Australia, daughter of Australian writing royalty Sally Morgan (author of My Place and Sister Heart). Kwaymullina’s writing includes YA science fiction novels, children’s picture books, and academic research on public law.
Catching Teller Crow (co-authored with her brother Ezekial)
Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her – and he’s drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what’s her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven’t been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another. Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel interweaves themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family. ‘Catching Teller Crow is an up-to-the-minute tale that goes straight to the heart of Australia’s darkest history.
Through poetry and story, with great sensitivity, the Kwaymullinas pick up and deal with subjects most authors in this country find too hot to touch. Terrible crimes lie at the centre here; viewed through the eyes of young women of unquenchable spirit, they can be approached, examined, and ultimately solved. This novel will turn gazes in the right direction, and make the caw of every crow more resonant.
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (available on shelf but not online)
A compelling novel that asks what happens when children develop inexplicable abilities—and the government sees them as a threat. They’re known as Firestarters. Boomers. Skychangers. Ashala Wolf and her Tribe of fellow Illegals have taken refuge in the Firstwood, where they are hidden and free. But when she is betrayed by a friend and captured by an enemy, Ashala is forced to succumb to a machine that will pull secrets from her mind. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?
Cath Crowley grew up in rural Victoria, and was inspired to write while travelling in Europe. She is now based in Melbourne, and has received numerous literary awards for her YA novels.
Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.
Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.
Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it.
Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.
An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.
This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.
Anita Heiss writes non-fiction, historical fiction, chicklit, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She was born in Sydney and is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW, though currently lives in Brisbane.
Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia (available on shelf but not online)
What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question.
Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside those from newly discovered writers of all ages. All of the contributors speak from the heart – sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect.
This groundbreaking collection will enlighten, inspire and educate about the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today.
Contributors include: Tony Birch, Deborah Cheetham, Adam Goodes, Terri Janke, Patrick Johnson, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Jack Latimore, Celeste Liddle, Amy McQuire, Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Miranda Tapsell, Jared Thomas, Aileen Walsh, Alexis West, Tara June Winch, and many, many more.
Mel Gordon loves running, and watching Seinfeld, but mostly she loves Cathy Freeman. It’s 2000 and the Olympics are going to be held in Australia. In a year of surprises, Mel finds out that Cathy Freeman is coming to talk to her school. And her family is heading to Sydney!
Alison Goodman is a Melburnian, and author of award-winning books in crime, fantasy, and sci-fi genres.
London, April 1812.
On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?
Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye–an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.
But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.
When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.
Morris Gleitzman is an iconic author of children’s and young adult fiction, known for his unexpected humour, and is in pretty much every school library in the country. Though born in England, he has made Australia his home for over 50 years.
Once by Morris Gleitzman is the story of a young Jewish boy who is determined to escape the orphanage he lives in to save his Jewish parents from the Nazis in the occupied Poland of the Second World War.
Everybody deserves to have something good in their life. At least Once.
Once I escaped from an orphanage to find Mum and Dad.
Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house.
Once I made a Nazi with a toothache laugh.
My name is Felix. This is my story.
Like many of his mates from the bush, Frank Ballantyne is keen to join the grand adventure and do his bit. Specially as a chest full of medals might impress the currently unimpressed parents of his childhood sweetheart. So Frank ups his age and volunteers with his horse Daisy … and his dad.
In the deserts of Egypt and Palestine he experiences all the adventure he ever wanted, and a few things he wasn’t expecting. Heartbreak, love and the chance to make the most important choice of his life.
From Gallipoli to the famous charge at Beersheba, through to the end of the war and its unforgettable aftermath, Frank’s story grows out of some key moments in Australia’s history.
They were loyal creatures, the men and horses of the Australian Light Horse, but war doesn’t always pay heed to loyalty. This is the powerful story of a young man’s journey towards his own kind of bravery.