November has arrived. So here we are again with another five books to add to what we hope is an ever-growing TBR pile. With so many books released each month, we know it’s hard to keep track of what’s out, what you should be reading, and in some cases what you should getting your friends to read. That’s where these five titles come in.
This month is a bit more non-fiction heavy than usual and features in the mix another return to the Wizarding World, new titles from literary heavyweights, as well as the inspiring story of the newly announced NSW Australian of the Year.
As always you can find all five titles in all the usual places both online and out in the real world; and as always I do heartily recommend hitting up your local bookstore, independent or otherwise.
Here are this month’s five books….
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J.K. Rowling
This month readers will, for the second time this year, get the chance to return to the Wizarding World – this time with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the new screenplay from Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. Though it might not the novel some fans are craving, the new screenplay does come from the pen of Rowling, and if Cursed Child showed us anything there is still a demand for all things Harry Potter – even if it’s a script or a screenplay.
Fantastic Beasts takes its cue from the Hogwarts textbook of the same name, and follows the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander as he navigates 1920’s New York. Filled with new characters and creatures, Fantastic Beasts sees Rowling continue to flesh out the world she created; and if recent announcements are to go by, this might just be the first in a series of screenplays. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child became the fastest selling book of the decade earlier this year, it’s not yet clear whether Fantastic Beasts will do the same, but fans would be advised to get those bookshops quick just to be safe.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is released November 18th through Hachette Australia
Swing Time – Zadie Smith
Swing Time is the much-anticipated new novel from multi-award-winning author Zadie Smith, her first novel length release since 2012’s NW. Swing Time moves between London and West African as it traces the diverging lives of two young ‘brown’ girls who dream of becoming dancers. It’s not just great distances the novel covers, but also time, with Smith ambitiously following the two girls unfolding lives over the span of a quarter century.
Smith is undoubtedly a literary heavyweight and it’ll come no surprise if Swing Time pops up on many a shortlist next year. The novel also for the first time sees Smith writing in the first person. Swing Time is an ambitious work, with Smith exploring ideas surrounding friendship, race, gender and celebrity. It’s no easy task exploring such contentious topics, and creating a story that is also a compelling read, but it seems Smith has managed it, the novel has already been garnering some serious critical buzz, with words like ‘virtuoso’ and ‘incomparable’ getting bandied about.
Swing Time is released November 15th through Penguin
Songs of a War Boy – Deng Thiak Adut
Songs of A War Boy is the humbling and inspiring true story of Deng Adut, a former Sudanese child solider and refugee and the recently named NSW Australian of the Year. At a time when the pervasive discourse surrounding refugees and asylum speakers is often strikingly xenophobic and negative, Adut’s story stands as a positive and necessary counter.
The memoir, written alongside writer and editor Ben McKelvey, is both harrowing and inspiring, covering not only his “childhood”, where at the age of six he was conscripted into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and taught to use an AK-47. But also his life in Australia, where he learnt English from watching The Wiggles, taught himself to read, and eventually graduated from Western Sydney University with a Law degree – the first in his family to graduate university.
Songs of a War Boy is not only the story of an inspiring man who has overcome remarkable adversity, but also a story of the potential and possibility that exists if we give people the chance.
Songs of a War Boy is out now through Hachette Australia
Another Day In The Death of America – Gary Younge
Given the title you’d be forgiven for maybe thinking it’s a book about Wednesday – but no! Another Day in the Death of America is a moving and utterly necessary treatise on the effects of gun crime on children in the United States of America. It’s a book that’s now perhaps even more important now a man who seemingly believes there should be no restriction to the 2nd Amendment has been elected as President.
Another Day in the Death of America focuses only on the twenty-four hours that made up Saturday 23rd November 2013. On that day ten children, between the ages of 9 and 19, were shot dead. It was a day that author Gary Younge picked at random, and the sad reality is he could have picked any day and likely found similar outcomes. The book tells the story of the lives and deaths of those ten children, with the support of all but one of the children’s families. All their stories take place in different places, their backgrounds all slightly different, the one common link – the manner of their deaths.
Another Day in the Death of America is a sobering read, one that puts a human face to such sad statistics. Will it make a difference? Who knows… but if it gets a conversation happening then that’s at least a start.
Another Day in the Death of America is available now through Allen & Unwin
Frantumaglia – Elena Ferrante
If you haven’t heard the name Elena Ferrante… just where have you been for the last year or so? #ferrantefever has spread through Australia like wildfire, with the author’s Neapolitan novels have been massive bestsellers. Whilst the identity of the author has been the subject of fevered and controversial speculation (much to the consternation of Ferrante and many of her fans).
Frantumaglia the latest of Ferrante’s works to appear in translation is a collection of the author’s writings, from letters to her publisher, interviews with journalists and editors and even answers to fan questions. That this is a must have for fans of Ferrante goes without saying, but it will also be of interest to those with an curiosity about the art and act of writing. The collection reveals Ferrante’s thoughts on a multitude of topics from feminism, the importance of fiction, and motherhood. Allowing a glimpse into the mind of one of Italy’s most acclaimed writers in the process.
Frantumaglia is available now through Text Publishing
Header Image by Joshua James Sandells