Happy New Year! Welcome back to a new instalment of our recommended reading monthly feature (now with fresh new artwork). Hopefully you all had a great break away from work and enjoyed some downtime over the festive period.
As always we’re here to bring you five books we think you need to be reading this month. This month has a bit of an international feel, with new books from here in Australia and as far afield as Argentina. We’ve got a debut, two short story collections and a posthumous release all in need of your attention this month.
As always you can find all these books at your usual online retailers, or in those trusty brick and mortar stores – where in most cases the staff will happily recommend you a bunch of great reads too.
Here’s this month’s five books…
The Trapeze Act – Libby Angel
The Trapeze Act is the first novel from Australian poet Libby Angel and promises to transport the reader from European circus troupes and tents to the Australian outback – via suburban Adelaide circa the sixties. The novel follows the story of Loretta, and her somewhat enigmatic parents – Leda, a circus performer and Gilbert Lord, a young handsome barrister with a outlandish family history of his own.
There will undoubtedly be comparisons made to Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants; however it is much more than a circus story – but one of family and hidden stories. The novel has already been getting plenty of critical attention and GoodReads buzz. With the release of The Trapeze Act, 2017 in Australian publishing is off to a good start.
The Trapeze Act is available now through Text Publishing
Glaxo – Hernán Ronsino
It’s safe to say I have a penchant for translated fiction – especially novels and collections from Latin and South America. Stylistically and thematically they always seem to manage throw up something different. So this month I couldn’t go past Glaxo by Argentinian writer and academic Hernán Ronsino. Glaxo more novella than novel marks Ronsino’s English language debut, with Australian Samuel Rutter on translation duties.
Glaxo is filled with murder, betrayal and lust – all in less than a 100 pages. Through alternating voices Ronsino tells the story of four childhood friends who grow into adults and get themselves embroiled in illicit romances, government death squads and murder – sounds intense, no? Ronsino has been heralded as one of the 25 most interesting writers in Latin America, and as one of the strongest storytellers of his generation. Definitely one to check out if you like your Latin American fiction!
Glaxo is released January 19th through Melville House Press
Difficult Women – Roxane Gay
Difficult Women is the new short story collection from award-winning author, academic and commentator Roxane Gay. The collection (in case the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway) explores the lives of a diverse collection of women and spans social, economic and cultural divides. The women in these stories come from all walks of life – poverty and privilege. There are stories of wives, daughters and sisters; of strippers, engineers and wealthy housewives, all offering Gay’s wry vision of modern America.
Difficult Women is Gay’s fourth book, and her first of the year – Hunger a memoir of sorts is due later in the year. In many ways Difficult Women is quite a timely release. As a new administration takes the reins in the US, an administration which doesn’t quite have the best relationship with women, or indeed with minorities, it is more important than ever to read writers like Roxane Gay; writers who make their voices heard, rouse rabbles and confront issues head on.
Difficult Women is available now through Hachette Australia
Homesick for Another World – Ottessa Moshfegh
Some of you might recognise the name Ottessa Moshfegh from last year’s Man Booker Prize where she made the shortlist with her debut novel Eileen. How do you follow up a debut that gets nominated for a prestigious literary prize? With a short story collection it seems. Though it’s fair to say that Moshfegh has some pedigree there too; she was awarded the prominent Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review (where many of her stories have appeared) back in 2013.
Homesick for Another World has been described as unsettling, dark and full of dark humour. But it has also been garnering some serious critical acclaim, I part for it’s darkness and it’s ability to unsettle the reader, and lay bare the some of the more insidious parts of human nature. Moshfegh is one of the brightest young talents in US publishing and one to watch.
Homesick for Another World is available now through Penguin / Random House
Confabulations – John Berger
On January 2nd the renowned art critic, author, painter and poet John Berger passed away at the age of 90. Perhaps best known in his native UK for the television program and essay collection, Ways of Looking, Berger also won the Man Booker Prize in 1972 for his novel G. Confabulations his latest, and probably his last, collection of essays was published posthumously in Australia earlier this month.
Confabulations features Berger’s thoughts on language and its relationship to art, thought, song, storytelling and political discourses. The collection also features Berger’s own illustrations, as well as memories and reflections on a variety of topics from Camus to capitalism. You need look no further than those offering their condolences to see the influence of Berger, with many crediting him for changing the way a generation looked at art. Vale John Berger
Confabulations is available now through Penguin / Random House
Header Image by Joshua James Sandells