Our August Book Picks: Fiction

Chloe

Colombiano by Rusty Young

For seven years Rusty Young, author of the international bestseller Marching Powder, lived and worked in Colombia, interviewing special forces soldiers, snipers, undercover intelligence agents and members of two vicious terrorist organisations – the FARC and Autodefensas. Colombiano is an epic tale of rural villages held to ransom, of jungle drug labs, cocaine supermarkets, witch doctors and buried millions, of innocent teenage love, barbaric torture and meticulously planned revenge. Both blockbuster thriller and electrifying coming-of-age story, Rusty Young’s powerful novel is also a meditation on the redeeming power of love.

Whipbird by Robert Drewe

Kungadgee, Victoria, Australia. A weekend in late November, 2014. At Hugh and Christine Cleary’s new vineyard, Whipbird, six generations of the Cleary family are coming together from far and wide to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the arrival of their ancestor Conor Cleary from Ireland. Hugh has been meticulously planning the event for months – a chance to proudly showcase Whipbird  to the extended clan. Some of these family members know each other; some don’t. 

As the wine flows, it promises to be an eventful couple of days.
Comic, topical, honest, sharply intelligent, and, above all, sympathetic, Robert Drewe’s exhilarating new novel tells a classic Australian family saga as it has never been told before.

Common People by Tony Birch 

In this unforgettable new collection Tony Birch brings alive a cast of characters from all walks of life. These remarkable and surprising stories explore the lives of common people caught up in the everyday business of living and the struggle to survive. From a young girl who is gifted to a middle-class family for Christmas to a homeless deaf man who unexpectedly delivers a baby, Birch’s stories are set in gritty urban refuges and struggling regional communities. His deftly drawn characters find unexpected signs of hope in a world where beauty can be found on every street corner – a message on a t-shirt, a friend in a stray dog, a star in the night sky – and the ordinary kindness of strangers can have extraordinary results. 

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

A short, intense and profoundly moving debut novel about race, identity, sex and death Thandi is American, but not as American as some of her friends. She is South African, but South Africa terrifies her. She is a black woman with light skin.Her mother is dying.In exquisite vignettes of wry warmth and extraordinary emotional power, What We Lose tells Thandi's story. Both raw and artful, minimal yet rich, it is an intimate portrait of love and loss, and a fierce meditation on race, sex, identity, and staying alive.

Waiting for Monsieur Bellivier by Britta Rostlund 

'Are you waiting for Monsieur Bellivier, madame?' Helena Folasadu should of course say no. She doesn't know the man talking to her, she doesn't know Monsieur Bellivier, and she certainly isn't waiting for him. But, bored of life, and sparked by a whim, she says yes. The go-between leads her to a deserted floor in an office building and offers her a large sum of money to sit at a computer and forward emails to Monsieur Bellivier. The emails turn out to be in code, and the bouquets Helena is handed every evening entangle her in an even greater mystery. For fans of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, A Man Called Ove and Amelie, a tale of two mysteries, set in the shadow of Montmartre.

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move, and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria. On the other side of the Pacific, it is 1859 and India is ravaged by the disease. The hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical and in its desperation, the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary. Struggling with a terrible injury from his last mission and the strange occurrences at his family's ruined estate, Merrick Tremayne finds himself under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings at any cost and dispatched, against his own better judgement, to Bedlam.

Twentieth Man by Tony Jones

In September 1972 journalist Anna Rosen takes an early morning phone call from her boss at the ABC telling her about two bombings in Sydney's busy CBD. It's the worst terrorist attack in the country's history and Anna has no doubt which group is responsible for the carnage. She has been investigating the role of alleged war criminals in the globally active Ustasha movement. 
High in the Austrian Alps, guided by starlight and a crescent moon, Marin Katich is one of twenty would-be revolutionaries who slip stealthily over the border into Yugoslavia on a mission planned and funded in Australia which will have devastating consequences for all involved. 

The Town by Shaun Prescott 

2nd book by the Lifted Brow. Community radio host Ciara receives dozens of unmarked cassette recordings every week and broadcasts them to a listenership of none. Ex-musician Tom drives an impractical bus that no one ever boards. Publican Jenny runs a hotel that has no patrons. Rick wanders the aisles of the Woolworths every day in an attempt to blunt the disappointment of adulthood. In a town of innumerable petrol stations, labyrinthine cul-de-sac streets, two competing shopping plazas and ubiquitous drive-thru franchises, where are these people likely to find the truth about their collective past – and can they do so before the town completely disappears?