Writers' Week 2023

March 2023

Adelaide hosts Australia’s largest literary festival and we are again offering streaming at several sites across the City of Unley. Goodwood Library, Clarence Park Community Centre, Unley Community Centre and Fullarton park Community Centre all have streaming sessions available.

Below you can find links to our catalogue pointing to the authors featured on the East Stage that is streaming to our facilities. While many of these authors go through some heightened demand, you can place a hold to ensure you get a copy of their book/s as soon as possible.

You can find the Writers Week entire program on the Writers Week website, or until we run out, you might be able to find a printed copy of the brochure in the Libraries. We do have copies of the streaming schedule - if you can't find one in the Libraries, please ask at the desk.


The live-streaming sessions and their authors

Click on the author names to connect with our catalogue and explore their books. Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 March authors have been added. More to come!

Literary lives

Leaping through waterfalls by Bernadette Brennan  

Bernadette Brennan

Leaping into waterfalls : the enigmatic Gillian Mears

Leaping into Waterfalls explores the rich, tumultuous life of Gillian Mears, one of Australia's most significant writers of the last forty years. Gillian Mears appeared to many to be a shy woman from Grafton, but her lived and imaginative lives were rich with adventure, risk and often transgressive passion. In her award-winning and acclaimed novels and short stories, Mears wrote fearlessly of the dark undercurrents of country and family life, always probing the depths and complexity of human desire. Mears' sensuality and sexuality were the driving forces of her life and writing. As an adult, she was plagued by ill health yet remained steadfast in her quest to be independent and free; while recovering from open-heart surgery, she traversed the country alone in a de-commissioned ambulance. By her mid-forties, multiple sclerosis had confined her to a wheelchair. Undaunted, she continued to write and publish until her death five years later in 2016. Mears amassed an extensive collection of diaries, letters, manuscripts, photographs, recordings and ephemera, and deposited it with the Mitchell Library. She was a prolific correspondent with significant figures of the cultural landscape-Gerald Murnane, David Malouf, Tim Winton, Elizabeth Jolley, Helen Garner, Drusilla Modjeska, Kate Grenville and Marr Grounds. This meticulous and moving biography reads Mears' life and work within that broader cultural community to celebrate her truly extraordinary achievements and adventures. 

Lemon drop falls by Heather Clark  

Heather Clark

Lemon drop falls

Mum's last words: Keep them safe. Help them be happy. Morgan promised, so she sacrifices soccer, free time, and friendships for her younger siblings. But when Dad's "talk therapy" campout ignites Morgan's anxiety, she makes a reckless decision to prove she can fill Mum's shoes... which leaves her literally fighting for survival. Brave the sour to taste the sweet. Morgan is devastated by her mother's sudden death. Before, Mum's amazing organisational skills kept the family on track, and her bowl of lemon drops was always on hand to make difficult conversations easy, turning life's sour into sweet. After, there's no one to help Morgan navigate her new role caring for her younger siblings, her worries about starting junior high, and her increasingly confusing friendships.



Hannah Arendt by Samantha Rose Hill  

Samantha Rose Hill

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt is one of the most renowned political thinkers of the twentieth century, and her work has never been more relevant than it is today. Born in Germany in 1906, Arendt published her first book at the age of twenty-three, before turning away from the world of academic philosophy to reckon with the rise of the Third Reich. After World War II, Arendt became one of the most prominent -- and controversial -- public intellectuals of her time, publishing influential works such as The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem. Samantha Rose Hill weaves together new biographical detail, archival documents, poems, and correspondence to reveal a woman whose passion for the life of the mind was nourished by her love of the world.


A couple of things before the end : stories by Sean O'Beirne  

Sean O'Beirne

A couple of things before the end : stories

This brilliant collection mixes the storytelling originality of George Saunders and Lydia Davis with a sensibility all its own, taking the reader on an extraordinary tour of an old and a new Australia. A woman on a passenger ship in 1958 gets involved with a young, wild Barry Humphries. A man looks back to the 1970s and his time as a member of Australia's least competent scout troop. In 1988, a teenage boy recalls his sexual initiation, out on the tanbark. In 2015, two sisters text in Kmart about how to manage their irascible, isolated mum. Then, in the near future, a racist demagogue addresses the press the day after his electoral triumph. As the cities heat up and lose their water, a lady from one of the 'better suburbs' makes every effort to get her family into an exclusive gated community. Outstandingly original, bitingly satirical and written in a remarkable range of voices, A Couple of Things Before the End is a powerful vision of where we are - and where we may be headed.


Shirley Hazzard : a writing life by Brigitta Olubas  

Brigitta Olubas

Shirley Hazzard : a writing life

Born and raised in Sydney Australia, Hazzard lived around the world: in Hong Kong; Wellington, New Zealand; New York; Naples and Capri and her writing -- cosmopolitan, richly intelligent, beautiful, questing -- reflects her life. Her body of work is small but the acclaim it attracts is immeasurable, from among others, Michael Cunningham, Zoe Heller, Ann Patchett, Anne Tyler, Lauren Goff, Hermione Lee, Joan Didion, Richard Ford, Colm Toibin. At sixteen, she was living in Hong Kong with her family and working for the British Combined Services. She later worked, another desk job, for the United Nations in New York and, briefly, in Naples. Italy -- Capri and Naples -- claimed her heart and after she was married -- she was introduced to the biographer, Francis Steegmuller by Muriel Spark -- they divided their time between Italy and America. Drawing on diaries, letters, interviews alongside a close reading of Hazzard's fiction -- Brigitta Olubas, herself Australian -- tells the story of a girl from the suburbs 'with a head full of poetry' who fell early under the spell of words and sought out first books and then people who loved books as her companions. In the process she transformed and indeed created her life. She became a woman of the world who felt injustice keenly, a deep and original thinker, who wrote some of the most beautiful fiction about love and longing, always with an eye to the ways we reveal ourselves to another. This, the definitive biography uncovers the truths and myths and about Shirley Hazzard's life and work, which come together at the point, as Brigitta Olubas observes: 'where the writer lives'.


Hype, hypocrisy and history speeding up 

Straight line crazy by David Hare  

David Hare

Straight line crazy

For forty uninterrupted years, Robert Moses was the most powerful man in New York. Though never elected to office, he manipulated those who were through a mix of guile, charm and intimidation.Motivated at first by a determination to improve the lives of New York City's workers, he created parks, bridges and 627 miles of expressway to connect the people to the great outdoors. But in the 1950s, groups of citizens began to organize against his schemes and against the motor car, campaigning for a very different idea of what a city should be.David Hare's blazing account of a man - played by Ralph Fiennes - whose iron will exposed the weakness of democracy in the face of charismatic conviction, premieres at the Bridge Theatre, London, in March 2022



The Irish question

All the broken places by John Boyne  

John Boyne

All the broken places

1946. Three years after a cataclysmic event which tore their lives apart, a mother and daughter flee Poland for Paris, shame, and fear at their heels, not knowing how hard it is to escape your past. Nearly eighty years later, Gretel Fernsby lives a life that is a far cry from her traumatic childhood. When a couple moves into the flat below her in her London mansion block, it should be nothing more than a momentary inconvenience. However, the appearance of their nine-year-old son Henry brings back memories she would rather forget. Faced with a choice between her own safety and his, Gretel is taken back to a similar crossroads she encountered long ago. Back then, her complicity dishonoured her life, but to interfere now could risk revealing the secrets she has spent a lifetime protecting. All the Broken Places is John Boyne's masterful sequel to his classic bestseller, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, taking a character from that novel on a journey to a place she never goes - the past. Through her story, he explores the aftermath of the war and the effects of a lifetime of guilt.

I couldn't love you more by Esther Freud  

Esther Freud

I couldn't love you more

For forty uninterrupted years, Robert Moses was the most powerful man in New York. Though never elected to office, he manipulated those who were through a mix of guile, charm and intimidation.Motivated at first by a determination to improve the lives of New York City's workers, he created parks, bridges and 627 miles of expressway to connect the people to the great outdoors. But in the 1950s, groups of citizens began to organize against his schemes and against the motor car, campaigning for a very different idea of what a city should be.David Hare's blazing account of a man - played by Ralph Fiennes - whose iron will exposed the weakness of democracy in the face of charismatic conviction, premieres at the Bridge Theatre, London, in March 2022


Trespasses by Louise Kennedy  

Louise Kennedy


There is nothing special about the day Cushla meets Michael, a married man from Belfast, in the pub owned by her family. But here, love is never far from violence, and this encounter will change both of their lives forever. As people get up each morning and go to work, school, church or the pub, the daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploded, another man beaten, killed or left for dead. In the class Cushla teaches, the vocabulary of seven-year-old children now includes phrases like 'petrol bomb' and 'rubber bullets'. And as she is forced to tread lines she never thought she would cross, tensions in the town are escalating, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.


Meet the Cohens

How to live. What to do. how great novels help us change by Josh Cohen  

Josh Cohen

How to live, what to do : how great novels help us change

How the lives of great literary characters can help us live a richer and more meaningful life, written by an eminent psychoanalyst and Professor of English Literature. What can Alice in Wonderland teach us about childhood? Could reading Conversations with Friends guide us through first love? Does Esther Greenwood's glittering success and subsequent collapse in The Bell Jar help us understand ambition? And, finally, what can we learn about death from Virginia Woolf? Literature matters. Not only does it provide escapism and entertainment, but it also holds a mirror up to our lives to show us aspects of ourselves we may not have seen or understood. From jealousy to grief, fierce love to deep hatred, our inner lives become both stranger and more familiar when we explore them through fiction. Josh Cohen, a psychoanalyst and Professor of Modern Literary Theory, delves deep into the inner lives of the most memorable and vivid characters in literature. His analysis of figures such as Jay Gatsby and Mrs Dalloway offers insights into the greatest questions about the human experience, ones that we can all learn from. He walks us through the different stages of existence, from childhood to old age, showing that literature is much more than a refuge from the banality and rigour of everyday life - through the experiences of its characters, it can show us ways to be wiser, more open and more self-aware.


The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen  

Joshua Cohen

The Netanyahus

Corbin College, not quite upstate New York, winter 1959-1960: Ruben Blum, a Jewish historian - but not an historian of the Jews - is co-opted onto a hiring committee to review the application of an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition. When Benzion Netanyahu shows up for an interview, family unexpectedly in tow, Blum plays the reluctant host to guests who proceed to lay waste to his American complacencies. Mixing fiction with nonfiction, the campus novel with the lecture, The Netanyahus is a wildly inventive, genre-bending comedy of blending, identity, and politics that finds Joshua Cohen at the height of his powers.



An Australian publishing icon

Other people's houses by Hilary McPhee  

Hilary McPhee

Other people's houses

In Other People's Houses publishing legend Hilary McPhee exchanges one hemisphere for another. Fleeing the aftermath of a failed marriage, she embarks on a writing project in the Middle East, for a member of the Hashemite royal family, a man she greatly respects. Here she finds herself faced with different kinds of exile, new kinds of banishment. From apartments in Cortona and Amman and an attic in London, McPhee watches other women managing magnificently alone as she flounders through the mire of Extreme Loneliness. Other People's Houses is a brutally honest memoir, funny, sad, full of insights into worlds to which she was given privileged access, and of the friendships which sustained her. And ultimately, of course, this is the story of returning home, of picking up the pieces, and facing the music as her house and her life takes on new shapes.




Why books about politics matter

The high road : What Australia can learn from New Zealand by Laura Tingle  

Laura Tingle

The high road : what Australia can learn from New Zealand

Despite being so close in distance, why do Australia and New Zealand seem to know so little about each other? And is there such a thing as national character? In this wise and illuminating essay, Laura Tingle looks at leadership, economics, history and more. Competitiveness has marked our relationship from its earliest days. In the past half-century, both countries have been compelled to remake themselves amid shifting economic fortunes. New Zealand has been held up as a model for everything from tax reform to the way we conduct our politics. What have been the outcomes? How do they compare to ours? Tingle considers everything from Morrison and Ardern as national leaders to the different ways each country has dealt with its colonial legacy.

Alindarka's children by Alhierd Backarevic  

Alhierd Bacharevič

Alindarka's children : things will be bad 

Alicia and her brother Avi are imprisoned in a camp on the edge of a forest. There, children are trained to forget their language through therapy, coercion, drugs, and larynx surgery. The Leid (or Belarusian language) is considered a perversion or sickness to be cured and replaced by the only pure form of language, the Lingo (Russian). But the children slip away through a hole in the fence. Abducted by their father - who had been performing his own dubious experiments - the siblings soon escape him, too, and set out on their own. Pursued by many, the little boy and girl use an antique map of Germany which leads them closer to a checkpoint - and great danger.


White Russians, red peril : a cold war history of migration to Australia by Sheila Fitzpatrick  

Sheila Fitzpatrick

White Russians, red peril : a cold war history of migration to Australia

Over 20,000 ethnic Russians migrated to Australia after World War II -- yet we know very little about their experiences. Some came via China, others from refugee camps in Europe. Many preferred to keep a low profile in Australia, and some attempted to 'pass' as Polish, West Ukrainian or Yugoslavian. They had good reason to do so: to the Soviet Union, Australia's resettling of Russians amounted to the theft of its citizens, and undercover agents were deployed to persuade them to repatriate. Australia regarded the newcomers with wary suspicion, even as it sought to build its population by opening its door to more immigrants. Making extensive use of newly discovered Russian-language archives and drawing on a lifetime's study of Soviet history and politics, award-winning author Sheila Fitzpatrick examines the early years of a diverse and disunited Russian-Australian community and how Australian and Soviet intelligence agencies attempted to track and influence them. While anti-Communist 'White' Russians dreamed a war of liberation would overthrow the Soviet regime, a dissident minority admired its achievements and thought of returning home.


Climate change and the nation state by Anatol Lieven  

Anatol Lieven

Climate change and the nation state : the realist case

'This is one of those rare books that have something really important to say. Anatol Lieven is telling his fellow realists that at this moment the world's great powers are far more threatened by climate change than they are by each other' Ivan Krastev, author of The Light That Failed In the past two centuries we have experienced wave after wave of overwhelming change. Entire continents have been resettled; there are billions more of us; the jobs done by countless people would be unrecognizable to their predecessors; scientific change has transformed us all in confusing, terrible and miraculous ways. Anatol Lieven's major new book provides the frame that has long been needed to understand how we should react to climate change. This is a vast challenge, but we have often in the past had to deal with such challenges: the industrial revolution, major wars and mass migration have seen mobilizations of human energy on the greatest scale. Just as previous generations had to face the unwanted and unpalatable, so do we.In a series of incisive, compelling interventions, Lieven shows how in this emergency our crucial building block is the nation state. The drastic action required both to change our habits and protect ourselves can be carried out not through some vague globalism but through maintaining social cohesion and through our current governmental, fiscal and military structures.This is a book which will provoke innumerable discussions.


The politics of pandemics

Apollo & Thelma : a true tall tale by Jon Faine  

Jon Faine

Apollo & Thelma : a true tall tale

Apollo and Thelma is the astonishing true story of Thelma and her brother Paul, 'The Mighty Apollo'. Their twisting tales take author and broadcaster Jon Faine from Melbourne's depression-era slums to the harsh, unforgiving landscape of the Australian outback. Jon revisits the feats of Apollo, a strongman of yesteryear, who sought the spotlight - and legend status - in becoming the world's strongest man (performing amazing feats of strength that included pulling trams with his teeth, having an elephant stand on him, and being run over by cars), while Thelma, an enigmatic presence, travelled to the remote reaches of the Northern Territory to become the pioneering female publican of the infamous 'Wanda Inn', selling grog to anyone who could pay. But this is far more than just a remarkable yarn. Immersing himself in Apollo and Thelma's lives, Jon uncovers true tales that are compelling, confronting, and sometimes too sad to believe. Via the improbable and circuitous route of these two originals - alongside a cast of other extraordinary characters - Jon has to reckon with his own story, his own history and Australia's past, present, and future.



Lockdown by Chip Le Grand  

Chip Le Grand


How does a city go from being the world's most liveable to its most locked down? For 262 days, Melbourne was cocooned by stay-at-home orders. Businesses were forcibly closed, classrooms shuttered, and community and social life relegated to an impersonal online world. To stop the spread of a virus, people were prevented from saying goodbye to dying loved ones, children were separated from their parents, and playground equipment was taped off like a crime scene. Through successive COVID winters, the state of Victoria was isolated from the rest of the federation and Melbourne from the rest of the state. Our remarkable success was to eliminate the virus — at least for a time — achieving something no other city had. We kept alive people who otherwise would have died and prevented serious illness in others. As Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared when Melbourne emerged from its final, protracted quarantine: 'We have saved lives, we have kept people safe.' But this came at a severe cost, one unlikely to be fully understood for years to come.From 25 January 2020, the day a man recently arrived from Wuhan walked into the emergency department of a Melbourne suburban hospital and Australia recorded its first case of COVID-19, journalist Chip Le Grand has reported on the pandemic from his home city, detailing the Victorian Government's machinations in response to an unprecedented public health crisis. Lockdown is the story of Melbourne's singular pandemic experience, an examination of the decisions taken in pursuit of COVID-zero, and the consequences of those decisions.

Dark Winter by Raina MacIntyre  

Raina MacIntyre

Dark winter : an insider's guide to pandemics and biosecurity

Epidemiologist and biosecurity expert Raina MacIntyre reveals her insights into biological warfare, pandemics and the threats that lie ahead. In Dark Winter, world-leading epidemiologist Professor Raina MacIntyre navigates the past, present and future of pandemics and biosecurity. MacIntyre examines the history of biological warfare (and why it is called the poor man's nuke), Soviet and US bioweapons programs, developments in genetic engineering, synthetic biology and catastrophic laboratory accidents. MacIntyre also explores the COVID-19 pandemic and the heated debate around its origins, and shares the analysis she has conducted in trying to determine whether it's a natural or unnatural pandemic. Looking ahead, MacIntyre outlines the future of genetic engineering, synthetic biology and bioterrorism, and the national and global security needed to manage quantum changes in technology, along with how we might avoid future pandemics.



Poetry in the age of absolutely everything

Magnetic Field by Simon Armitage  

Simon Armitage

Magnetic field : the Marsden poems

The large village of Marsden, West Yorkshire not only was home to Simon Armitage's beginnings as writer, but has continued as a vital presence throughout his works: from his very first pamphlet, Human Geography (1988), to his forthcoming new collection New Cemetery (scheduled for 2022). This edition gathers all the Marsden poems together to create a 'poetry of place' edition, which will offer a new way of appraising Simon's body of work, as well as celebrating this overlooked region that has meant so much to him personally. Simon will be announcing a decade-long tour of libraries in the UK as a central strand of his laureateship: every spring he'll be reading in a handful of libraries across the country, and would like to feature this collection as part of it, donating a copy to each library.Even in Marsden the extraordinary could happen, apparently. Staring out of that window every night I developed a new sense of the world, one that went beyond the factual and the informational. A sense of what it was like, and how it felt. That was the beginning of my life as a writer, even though I still didn't know how to capture experiences in words.- Simon Armitage in the Guardian, on growing up in Marsden.


When children are cannon fodder

The lost boys by Paul Byrnes  

Paul Byrnes

The lost boys : the untold stories of the under-age Anzac soldiers who fought in the First World War

In the First World War of 1914-1918, thousands of boys across Australia and New Zealand lied about their age, forged a parent's signature and left to fight on the other side of the world. Though some were as young as thirteen, they soon found they could die as well as any man. Like Peter Pan's lost boys, they have remained forever young. These are their stories. This extraordinary book captures the incredible and previously untold stories of forty Anzac boys who fought in the First World War, from Gallipoli to the Armistice. Featuring haunting images of the boys taken at training camps and behind the lines, these tales are both heartbreaking and rousing, full of daring, ingenuity, recklessness, random horror and capricious luck. A unique perspective on the First World War, The Lost Boys is military history made deeply personal, a powerful homage to youthful bravery and a poignant reminder of the sacrifice of war.


"From the pulse of my heart"

What dementia teaches us about love by Nicci Gerrard  

Nicci Gerrard (Nicci French)

What dementia teaches us about love

This truthful, humane book is an attempt to understand. It is filled with stories, both moving and optimistic: from those living with dementia to those planning the end of life, from the scientists unlocking the mysteries of the brain to the therapists using art and music to enrich the lives of sufferers, from the campaigners battling for greater compassion in care to the families trying to make sense of this 'incomprehensible de-creation of the self'. It explores memory, language, identity, ageing and the notion of what it truly means to care. And it asks, how do we begin to value those who become old, invisible, forgotten? What do we owe them, and each other as humans? What, in the end, really matters?


Trespasses by Louise Kennedy  

Louise Kennedy


There is nothing special about the day Cushla meets Michael, a married man from Belfast, in the pub owned by her family. But here, love is never far from violence, and this encounter will change both of their lives forever. As people get up each morning and go to work, school, church or the pub, the daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploded, another man beaten, killed or left for dead. In the class Cushla teaches, the vocabulary of seven-year-old children now includes phrases like 'petrol bomb' and 'rubber bullets'. And as she is forced to tread lines she never thought she would cross, tensions in the town are escalating, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.



Modern relationships

Cult classic by Sloane Crosley  

Sloane Crosley

Cult classic

One night in New York City's Chinatown, Lola is at a dinner with former colleagues when she excuses herself to buy a pack of cigarettes. On her way back, she runs into a former boyfriend. The next night, she runs into another ex. And then... another. The city has become awash with ghosts of heartbreaks past. What might have passed for coincidence becomes something far stranger when the recently engaged Lola must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship, but the fact that her best friend and her former boss - a magazine editor turned mystical guru - might have an unhealthy investment in its outcome. As memories of the past swirl and converge, Lola is forced to decide if she will surrender herself to the conspirings of one very contemporary cult.

Love in the time of contagion : a diagnosis by Laura Kipnis  

Laura Kipnis

Love in the time of contagion : a diagnosis

In this timely, insightful, and darkly funny investigation, the acclaimed author of Against Love asks: what does living in dystopic times do to our ability to love each other and the world?COVID-19 has produced new taxonomies of love, intimacy, and vulnerability. Will its cultural afterlife be as lasting as that of HIV, which reshaped consciousness about sex and love even after AIDS itself had been beaten back by medical science? Will COVID end up making us more relationally conservative, as some think HIV did within gay culture? Will it send us fleeing into emotional silos or coupled cocoons, despite the fact that, pre-COVID, domestic coupledom had been steadily losing fans? Just as COVID revealed our nation to itself, so did it hold a mirror up to our relationships. In Love in the Time of Contagion, Laura Kipnis weaves (often hilariously) her own (ambivalent) coupled lockdown experiences together with those of others and sets them against a larger backdrop: the politics of the virus, economic disparities, changing gender relations, and the ongoing institutional crack-ups prompted by #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, mapping their effects on the everyday routines and occasional solaces of love and sex.

Seeing other people by Diana Reid  

Diana Reid

Seeing other people

Charlie's skin was stinging. Not with heat or sweat, but with that intense, body-defining self-consciousness-that sense of being watched. She lowered her eyes from Eleanor's loving gaze. Her throat taut with tears, she swallowed. 'You're a good sister, Eleanor.' 'Don't say that.' After two years of lockdowns, there's change in the air. Eleanor has just broken up with her boyfriend, Charlie's career as an actress is starting up again. They're finally ready to pursue their dreams-relationships, career, family-if only they can work out what it is they really want. When principles and desires clash, Eleanor and Charlie are forced to ask: where is the line between self-love and selfishness? In all their confusion, mistakes will be made and lies will be told as they reckon with the limits of their own self-awareness. Seeing Other People is the darkly funny story of two very different sisters, and the summer that stretches their relationship almost to breaking point.




America, America

Foreskin's Lament by Shalom Auslander  

Shalom Auslander

Foreskin's lament

Shalom Auslander was raised with a terrified respect for God. Even as he grew up, defying and eventually being cast out of his community, he could not find his way to a life in which he wasn't locked in a daily struggle with Him. Foreskin's Lament is a rich and fascinating portrait of a man grappling with his faith, his family and his community.


Australia's China odyssey : from euphoria to fear by James Curran  

James Curran

Australia's China odyssey : from euphoria to fear

Australia's relationship with China is one of the dominant geopolitical stories of our times. The need to understand the tectonic forces of history moving beneath the surface of these critical events has never been more pressing. In Australia's China Odyssey, acclaimed historian James Curran explores this crucial and complicated relationship through the prism of the prime ministers who have handled relations with Beijing since Whitlam in 1972.

The shortest history of democracy by John Keane  

John Keane

The shortest history of democracy

In an age of fake news and half-truths, the radical potential of democracy is more important than ever, as this nimble, illuminating history by a celebrated political theorist reveals. From its beginnings in Syria-Mesopotamia - and not Athens - to its role in fomenting revolutionary fervour in France and America, democracy has subverted fixed ways of deciding who should enjoy power and privilege, and why. For democracy encourages people to do something radical- to come together as equals, to determine their own lives and futures. In this vigorous, illuminating history, acclaimed political thinker John Keane traces its byzantine history, from the age of assembly democracy in Athens, to European-inspired electoral democracy and the birth of representative government, to our age of monitory democracy. He gives new reasons why democracy is a precious global ideal, and shows that as the world has come to be shaped by democracy, it has grown more worldly - American-style liberal democracy is giving way to regional varieties with a local character in places such as Taiwan, India, Senegal and South Africa.


We don't know ourselves by Fintan O'Toole  

Fintan O'Toole

We don't know ourselves : a personal history of Ireland since 1958

The #1 Irish Times bestseller WINNER of the An Post Irish Book Awards 'A clear-eyed, myth-dispelling masterpiece' Marian Keyes 'Sweeping, authoritative and profoundly intelligent' Colm Tóibín, Guardian 'With the pace and twists of an enthralling novel' Irish Times 'Evocative, moving, funny and furious' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times 'An enthralling, panoramic book' Patrick Radden Keefe 'A book that will remain important for a very long time' An Post Irish Book AwardWe Don't Know Ourselves is a very personal vision of recent Irish history from the year of O'Toole's birth, 1958, down to the present. Ireland has changed almost out of recognition during those decades, and Fintan O'Toole's life coincides with that arc of transformation. The book is a brilliant interweaving of memories (though this is emphatically not a memoir) and engrossing social and historical narrative. This was the era of Eamon de Valera, Jack Lynch, Charles Haughey and John Charles McQuaid, of sectarian civil war in the North and the Pope's triumphant visit in 1979, but also of those who began to speak out against the ruling consensus – feminists, advocates for the rights of children, gay men and women coming out of the shadows. We Don't Know Ourselves is an essential book for anyone who wishes to understand modern Ireland.

Run for your life by Bob Carr  

Bob Carr

Run for your life

Most political memoirs are boring.

Bob Carr tears up the rules. He plunges in, beginning with the despair of a young man pining for a political career, convinced he's going nowhere, then vaulting to the exhilaration of a premier who, on one day, saves a vast forest and unveils the country's best curriculum.

He lashes himself for ignoring a cry from a prisoner in a cell and for a breach of protocol with a US Supreme Court judge. He considers talking to the leader of a notorious rape gang and celebrates winning power against the odds: a leader without kids or any interest in sport.

He describes growing up in a fibro house without sewerage and a 'lousy education' that produced a lifetime appetite for self-learning. He is candid about dealing with the media, dining with royals, working for Kerry Packer.

He reveals the secrets he learnt from Neville Wran. He is open about his adulation of Gough Whitlam. Floating above all is Bob Carr's idea of public service in a party, he says, that resembles an old, scarred, barnacled whale.

In an era of bland politicians, here's one with personality true to his quirky self.

Silence the jet skis! Balance the budget! Liberate the dolphins! Roll out the toll roads! Declare a million hectares of eucalypt wilderness! Be a politician of character.


The Return of D.H. Lawrence

Sojourn by Amit Chaudhuri  

Amit Chaudhuri


The new novel about the present, the past, and the slippage between private and public life-from a writer who has 'like Proust, mastered the art of the moment.' (Hilary Mantel)An unnamed man arrives in Berlin as a visiting professor. It is a place fused with Western history and cultural fracture lines. He moves along its streets and pavements; through its department stores, museums and restaurants. He befriends Faqrul, an enigmatic exiled poet, and Birgit, a woman with whom he shares the vagaries of attraction. He tries to understand his white-haired cleaner. Berlin is a riddle-he becomes lost not only in the city but in its legacy.Sealed off in his own solitude, and as his visiting professorship passes, the narrator awaits transformation and meaning. Ultimately, he starts to understand that the less sure he becomes of his place in the moment, the more he knows his way.

The last days of Roger Federer by Geoff Dyer  

Geoff Dyer

The last days of Roger Federer and other endings

'Quite possibly the best living writer in Britain' Daily Telegraph Much attention has been paid to so-called late style – but what about last style? When does last begin? How early is late? When does the end set in? In this endlessly stimulating investigation, Geoff Dyer sets his own encounter with late middle age against the last days and last achievements of writers, painters, athletes and musicians who've mattered to him throughout his life. With a playful charm and penetrating intelligence, he examines Friedrich Nietzsche's breakdown in Turin, Bob Dylan's reinventions of old songs, J.M.W. Turner's paintings of abstracted light, John Coltrane's cosmic melodies, Jean Rhys's return from the dead (while still alive) and Beethoven's final quartets – and considers the intensifications and modifications of experience that come when an ending is within sight. Oh, and there's stuff about Roger Federer and tennis too. This book on last things – written while life as we know it seemed to be coming to an end – is also about how to go on living with art and beauty, on the entrancing effect and sudden illumination that an Art Pepper solo or an Annie Dillard reflection can engender in even the most jaded sensibilities. Blending criticism, memoir and repartee into something entirely new, The Last Days of Roger Federer is a summation of Dyer's passions and the perfect introduction to his sly and joyous work.

Look! We have come through! : living with D.H. Lawrence by Lara Feigel  

Lara Feigel

Look! We have come through! : living with D. H. Lawrence

Lara Feigel listens to birds outside her window -- their circling, strident calls -- and thinks of D. H. Lawrence. It is the spring of 2020 and, as the pandemic takes hold, she locks down in rural Oxfordshire with her partner, her two children, and that most explosive of writers. Proceeding month by month through the year, she sets out to start again with Lawrence: to find vital literary companionship; to use him as a guide to rural living and even, unexpectedly, to child-rearing; to find a way through his writing to excavate the modern world she feels he helped bring into being. Tracing the arc of Lawrence's life and delving deep into his writings, she confronts his anger, his passion, his tumultuous vitality. In the process, she faces some of today's most urgent dilemmas, from secular religion to the climate crisis, from sex and sexuality to feminism's ideas about motherhood. And, as she watches the seasons change alongside Lawrence, Feigel finds the rhythms of her own life shifting in unexpected ways. Brilliantly interweaving literary criticism, biography and memoir, Look! We Have Come Through! is a captivating exhumation of an author and a compelling manifesto for exposing ourselves to difficult and dangerous views.

Tenderness by Alison MacLeod  

Alison MacLeod


D. H. Lawrence is dying. Exiled in the Mediterranean, he dreams of the past. There are the years early in his marriage during the war, where his desperation drives him to commit a terrible betrayal. And there is a woman in an Italian courtyard, her chestnut hair red with summer. Jacqueline and her husband have already been marked out for greatness. Passing through New York, she slips into a hearing where a book, not a man, is brought to trial. A young woman and a young man meet amid the restricted section of a famous library, and make love. Scattered and blown by the winds of history, their stories are bound together, and brought before the jury. On both sides of the Atlantic, society is asking, and continues to ask: is it obscenity, or is it tenderness?


More From Writer's Week

Banking bad by Adele Ferguson  

Adele Ferguson

Banking bad

Winner of the 2020 Davitt Award for True Crime/Non-fiction. Against all the odds, Australia held a royal commission into the banking and financial services industries. Its revelations rocked the nation. Even defenders of the banks were blindsided. Few people were more instrumental in bringing about the commission than journalist Adele Ferguson. Through her exposes in print and on television, she pursued the truth about funds mismanagement, fraud, lack of probity, and the hard-sell culture that took over the finance industry after deregulation in the 1980s. But it wasn't just light-touch regulators and crooked bankers growing fat on bonuses she put under the spotlight. It was also their victims - men and women who had lost everything, and had no recourse when they discovered empty accounts, egregious fees, forged documents and broken promises. Now in Banking Bad, Ferguson tells the full story of the power imbalance, toxic culture and cover-ups. She describes the long fight for justice by whistleblowers, victims and political mavericks.

Witness by Louise Milligan  

Louise Milligan

Witness : an investigation into the brutal cost of seeking justice

Charting the experiences of those who have the courage to come forward to police and then look to find justice in court, Milligan has watched how witnesses are treated in the courtroom. They have described to her how they relive the associated trauma, often years later. Then, she saw this first-hand when she became a witness and was cross-examined herself in the trial of the decade, R v George Pell. Never-before-published court transcripts expose widespread systemic flaws. And through a combination of interviews with defence counsel, prosecutors and even judges, and the heartbreaking stories of witnesses in a number of high-profile cases, the brutal reality of the system is laid bare. Revealing the devastating effects of an adversarial legal system that can be sexist, callous and too often weighted towards the rich and powerful, Milligan also highlights its failure to protect the wellbeing of the most vulnerable. In detailing these flaws and the ongoing human cost, Witness is a compelling call for change.

The big teal by Simon Holmes a Court  

Simon Holmes à Court

The big teal

'We will not achieve net zero in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities.' Little infuriated the forgotten people of the twenty-first century — women and younger voters, especially — more than Scott Morrison's deluge of disparagement on the issues that mattered to them. The May 2022 election marked the great re-engagement of those ignored and patronised for too long on climate, integrity and gender equity. The electoral map has been dramatically redrawn. However, the triumph of the 'teals' was not entirely unexpected to those assisting their rise, such as Climate 200 founder Simon Holmes à Court. As Australia entered its lost decade on climate action, he observed that conventional advocacy had become a case of diminishing returns, and that Cathy McGowan's election as a community independent in 2013 provided a template for direct political engagement. The result was Climate 200, a crowdfunded outfit intended to provide the money and expertise to better match the major parties and turbocharge the grassroots movement emerging in thirty-plus electorates. Despite a relentless and increasingly shrill campaign of vilification aimed at Holmes à Court and the candidates by the Liberals, assisted by their media mates, we saw the election of six new community independent MPs and one senator. It was a victory of facts over fear, priorities over prejudice. It was a blow to the unfit-for-purpose 'majoritariat', a rejection of the false binary choice between parties that no longer reflect the hopes and complexity of modern democratic Australia. This is the story of how a team of inspired young tech-heads and older sages used their real and virtual-world experience to help a cluster of communities get the representation they wanted.

The teal revolution by Margot Saville  

Margot Saville

The teal revolution :  inside the movement changing Australian politics

The Teal Revolution is essential reading on the unprecedented Teal wave of the 2022 election, a movement with the potential to change Australian politics. From experienced political journalist Margot Saville, this is the fourth book in The Crikey Read series by Crikey and Hardie Grant Books. In the 2022 federal election a group of independent female candidates spectacularly ousted Liberal Party stalwarts from supposedly safe, blue-ribbon seats. These six women – Allegra Spender in Wentworth, Kylea Tink in North Sydney, Dr Sophie Scamps in Mackellar, Dr Monique Ryan in Kooyong, Zoe Daniel in Goldstein and Kate Chaney in Curtin – became know as the Teals. Their grassroots campaigns, supported by Climate 200 and focussing on issues like climate change action and political integrity, found success, even against the then treasurer. In The Teal Revolution, journalist Margot Saville brings an insider's view of the extraordinary 2022 election campaign in Wentworth and other key Teal seats. 

Independents' day by Brook Turner  

Brook Turner

Independent's day : the inside story of the community of independents and volunteers who changed Australian politics forever

As Australia headed into the 2022 election, the media focused on the usual two-horse race. They ran photos of Scott Morrison in high-vis, and trapped Anthony Albanese with gotcha questions. But in community halls and online forums, suburban streets and country towns, a very different kind of political change was already well underway. Brimful of enthusiasm, novice candidates, volunteers and campaigners were making it up as they went, with teams often working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, not daring to believe they might succeed. Everyday people in the safest Liberal seats donned teal, pink and purple T-shirts, turned up at railway stations at dawn and danced through shopping centres at lunch time. They wanted real action on climate change, integrity in politics, and gender equality. And they had found strong candidates willing to listen.

The carbon club by Marian Wilkinson  

Marian Wilkinson

The carbon club : how a network of influential climate sceptics, politicians and business leaders fought to control Australia's climate policy

The inside story of how a network of influential climate sceptics, politicians and business leaders fought to control Australia's response to the climate crisis. As the climate crisis threatens more extreme bushfire seasons, droughts and floods, many Australians are demanding their leaders answer the question: 'Why didn't you do something?' The Carbon Club reveals the truth behind Australia's two decades of climate inaction. It's the story of how a loose confederation of influential climate-science sceptics, politicians and business leaders sought to control Australia's response to the climate crisis. They shared a fear that dealing with climate change would undermine the nation's wealth, jobs and competitive advantage - and the power of the carbon club. Central to their strategy was an international campaign to undermine climate science and the urgency of the climate crisis. The more the climate science was questioned, the more politicians lost the imperative to act. The sustained success of the carbon club over two decades explains why Australian governments failed to deal with the challenge of climate change. But at what cost to us and the next generation? One of Australia's most respected investigative journalists, Marian Wilkinson has tracked the rise and rise of Australia's carbon club in brilliant detail, with extraordinary access to key players on all sides. The result is a book that is both essential and disturbing reading.

The most important job in the world by Gina Rushton  

Gina Rushton

The most important job in the world

Q: Should we become parents? It's a question that forces us to reckon with what we love and fear most in ourselves, in our relationships, and in the world as it is now and as it will be. When Gina Rushton admitted she had little time left to make the decision for herself, the magnitude of the choice overwhelmed her. Her search for her own 'yes' or 'no' only uncovered more questions to be answered. How do we clearly consider creating a new life on a planet facing catastrophic climate change? How do we reassess the gender roles we have been assigned? How do we balance ascending careers with declining fertility? How do we know if we've found the right co-parent, or if we want to go it alone, or if we don't want to do it at all? Drawing on the depth of knowledge afforded by her body of work as an award-winning journalist, Rushton wrote the book that she needed, and others need, to stop a panicked internal monologue and start a genuine dialogue about what we want from our lives and why.

A brief affair by Alex Miller  

Alex Miller

A brief affair

From the bustling streets of China, to the ominous Cell 16 in an old asylum building, to the familiar sounds and sight of galahs flying over a Victorian farm, A Brief Affair is a tender love story. On the face of it, Dr Frances Egan is a woman who has it all - a loving family and a fine career - until a brief, perfect affair reveals to her an imaginative dimension to her life that is wholly her own. Fran finds the courage and the inspiration to risk everything and change her direction at the age of forty-two. This newfound understanding of herself is fortified by the discovery of a long-forgotten diary from the asylum and the story it reveals. Written with humour, sensitivity and the wisdom for which Miller's work is famous, this exquisitely compassionate novel explores the interior life and the dangerous navigation of love in all its forms.

Cardinal : the rise and fall of George Pell  

Louise Milligan

Cardinal : the rise and fall of George Pell

George Pell is the most recognisable face of the Australian Catholic Church. He was the Ballarat boy with the film-star looks who studied at Oxford and rose through the ranks to become the Vatican's indispensable 'Treasurer'. As an outspoken defender of church orthodoxy, Pells ascendancy within the clergy was remarkable and seemingly unstoppable. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse has brought to light horrific stories about sexual abuse of the most vulnerable and provoked public anger at the extent of the cover-up. George Pell has always portrayed himself as the first man in the Church to tackle the problem. But questions about what the Cardinal knew, and when, have persisted. The nation's most prominent Catholic is now the subject of a police investigation into allegations spanning decades that he too abused children. Louise Milligan is the only Australian journalist who has been privy to the most intimate stories of complainants. She pieces together a series of disturbing pictures of the Cardinal's knowledge and his actions, many of which are being told here for the first time. Conspiracy or cover-up? This book uncovers uncomfortable truths about a culture of sexual entitlement, abuse of trust and how ambition can silence evil.

The ninth life of a diamond miner by Grace Tame  

Grace Tame

The ninth life of a diamond miner : a memoir

Grace Tame has never walked on middle ground. From a young age, her life was defined by uncertainty - by trauma and strength, sadness and hope, terrible lows and wondrous highs. As a teenager she found the courage to speak up after experiencing awful and ongoing child sexual abuse. This fight to find her voice would not be her last. In 2021 Grace stepped squarely into the public eye as the Australian of the Year, and was the catalyst for a tidal wave of conversation and action. Australians from all walks of life were inspired and moved by her fire and passion. She was using her voice and encouraging others to use theirs too. The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner is Grace's story, in Grace's words, on Grace's terms. Here she returns, again and again, to the things that have driven and saved her: love, connection and radical, unwavering honesty. Like Grace, this book is sharply intelligent, deeply felt, wildly unexpected and often blisteringly funny. And, as with all her work, it offers a constructive and optimistic vision for a better future for all of us.

The free world : art and thought in the cold war by Louis Menand  

Louis Menand

The free world : art and thought in the cold war

The Cold War was not just a contest of power. It was also about ideas, in the broadest sense - economic and political, artistic and personal. In The Free World, critic Louis Menand tells the story of American culture in the pivotal years from the end of World War II to Vietnam and stresses the rich flow of ideas across the Atlantic. How did elitism and an anti-totalitarian scepticism of passion and ideology give way to a new sensibility defined by experimentation and loving the Beatles? How was the ideal of 'freedom' applied to causes that ranged from anti-communism and civil rights to radical acts of self-creation via art and even crime? With the wit and insight familiar to readers of The Metaphysical Club, Menand takes us inside Hannah Arendt's Manhattan, the Paris of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and the post-war vogue for French existentialism, structuralism and post-structuralism. He also shows how Europeans played a vital role in promoting and influencing American art and thought, revealing how America's once neglected culture became respected and adored. With unprecedented verve and range, this book offers a masterly account of the main characters and minor figures who played part in shaping the post-war world of art and thought.

Exiles by Jane Harper  

Jane Harper


At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds. A year on, Kim Gillespie's absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family. Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems. Between Falk's closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he's drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.

Around Australia in 80 days  

Jonathan Green

Around Australia in 80 Days

In this book the author revisits the experience of packing the Land Rover and doing what many of us dream of doing and just taking off around Australia by way of the coast. On the way he managed to keep up his well-loved column in The Age newspaper producing some very amusing yet insightful copy on the widest range of topics.

Reset : restoring Australia after the great crash of 2020 by Ross Garnaut  

Ross Garnaut

Reset : restoring Australia after the pandemic recession

From the bestselling author, a ground-breaking sequel to Superpower. In Reset, renowned economist Ross Garnaut shows how the COVID-19 crisis offers Australia the opportunity to reset its economy and build a successful future -- and why the old approaches will not work. Garnaut develops the idea of a renewable superpower, he calls for a basic income and he explores what the 'decoupling' of China and America will mean for Australia. In the wake of COVID-19, the world has entered its deepest recession since the 1930s. Shocks of this magnitude throw history from its established course -- either for good or evil. In 1942 -- in the depths of war -- the Australian government established a Department of Post-War Reconstruction to plan a future that not only restored existing strengths but also rebuilt the country for a new and better future. As we strive to overcome the coronavirus challenge, we need new, practical ideas to restore Australia. This book has them.

Let it be morning by Sayed Kashua  

Sayed Kashua

Let it be morning

Imagine your own home surrounded by roadblocks and tanks, your water turned off and the cashpoints empty. What would you do next? A young journalist, recently married with a new baby, is seeking a quieter life away from the city and has bought a large new house in his parent's hometown, an Arab village in Israel. Nothing is as they remember: everything is smaller, the people petty and provincial and the villagers divided between sympathy for the Palestinians and dependence on the Israelis. Suddenly and shockingly, the village becomes a pawn in the power struggles of the Middle East. When Israeli tanks surround the village without warning or explanation, everyone inside is cut off from the outside world. As the situation grows increasingly tense, our hero is forced to confront what it means to be human in an inhuman situation.


Descent into hell by Peter Brune  

Peter Brune

Descent into hell : the fall of  Singapore - Pudu and Changi - The Thai Burma railway

No man has the command of words needed for conveying...the courage and the cowardice; the loyalty and the treachery; the dedication and the dereliction; the strengths and the frailties; the kindness and the brutality; the integrity and depravity; the magnificence and the enormities of men, as revealed by and to those fated to pass through the entrails of hell, in Thailand Burma, during and after the Railway was built.'Descent into Hell is a scrupulously researched and groundbreaking account of one of the most traumatic calamities in Australian history - the Malayan Campaign, the fall of Singapore and the subsequent horrors of the Thai-Burma Railway.

The battle of Long Tan by Peter Fitzsimons  

Peter FitzSimons

The battle of Long Tan

It was the afternoon of 18 August 1966, hot, humid with grey monsoonal skies. D Company, 6RAR were four kilometres east of their Nui Dat base, on patrol in a rubber plantation not far from the abandoned village of Long Tan. A day after their base had suffered a mortar strike, they were looking for Viet Cong soldiers. Then -- just when they were least expecting -- they found them. Under withering fire, some diggers perished, some were grievously wounded, the rest fought on, as they remained under sustained attack. For hours these men fought for their lives against the enemy onslaught. The skies opened and the rain fell as ferocious mortar and automatic fire pinned them down. Snipers shot at close quarters from the trees that surrounded them. The Aussie, Kiwi and Yankee artillery batteries knew it was up to them but, outnumbered and running out of ammunition they fired, loaded, fired as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army forces just kept coming. And coming. Their only hope was if Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) could reach them before they were wiped out. The APCs did their best but low cloud and thunderstorms meant air support was stalled. A daring helicopter resupply mission was suggested but who would want to fly that? The odds against this small force were monumental... By far the deadliest battle for Australian forces in Vietnam, the Battle of Long Tan has a proud place in the annals of Australian military history -- and every ANZAC who fought there could hold his head high.

The enigma of garlic by Alexander McCall Smith  

Alexander McCall Smith

The enigma of garlic

It's the most anticipated event of the decade: Big Lou and Fat Bob's wedding and everyone is invited! After a wonderful day, Big Lou crashes back down to earth and finds that she is a victim of her own success. The lure of those famous bacon rolls is preventing her from leaving hungry customers without their daily dose of deliciousness -- even to go for a long-awaited honeymoon. Will Big Lou find the happiness she so richly deserves? Everyone in Scotland Street hopes so, but, as Burns warned, the best laid plans... The relative peace and tranquillity of 44 Scotland Street is about to be disrupted. Irene is to return for a two-month stay, consigning Bertie to a summer camp. Not satisfied with that, she somehow manages to come between the enigmatic nun, Sister Maria-Fiore dei Fiori di Montagna, and her friend, the hagiographer, Antonia Collie. Can a person really change, even after being struck by lightning? Bruce's metamorphosis and new-found outlook on life is put to the test as he prepares to leave his creature comforts for the monastic simplicity of Pluscarden Abbey. His house sitter, meanwhile, gets a little too comfortable in his new life and discovers that the talented Bruce Anderson's shoes are all too easy to slip into. With great taste comes great responsibility.

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