Beach reads season is here!
Our Literature & Ideas curator Sisonke Msimang clearly knows her books
With this in mind and the prospect of long, hot summer days spent by the beach and under the trees on the horizon, we asked for Sisonke’s TOP TEN SUMMER READS so you can be transported to another place without the holiday airfares.
Prep your shelves and picnic blankets for the following …
- The New York Times book review team listed Julia Phillips’ Disappearing Earth as one of the 10 best books reviewed on their pages. It’s the haunting tale of two little girls who go missing and what their disappearance does to twelve women over a long year of waiting. The novel is set in Kamchatka, a 10-hour flight from Moscow, and there are no roads connecting it to the mainland.
- The New York Times also loved Tommy Orange’s There There and if that wasn’t enough, Margaret Atwood called it "an astonishing literary debut." It’s the story of a loosely connected group of Native Americans living in Oakland California. You’ll fall in love with its youngest characters and want to embrace its elders.
- Another pearler review from The NYT, they called Arif Anwar’s debut novel The Storm “fascinating and ambitious.” You may be sitting on an Aussie beach when you read it but it will take you around the world and you won’t want to stop travelling. In the tradition of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, The Storm explores the humanity that connects us beyond the surface difference of race, religion and nationality.
- A Woman Like Her: The Brief Life of Qandeel Baloch is the story of Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian, a woman whose posts garnered millions of views and thousands of vitriolic comments. Sanam Maher’s book is more than just the examination of her life and death, it’s a tale of independence and self-promotion that examines the phenomenon of female celebrity in the digital age.
- We Can Make a Life is the memoir of a family that lives in rural New Zealand. At its heart it’s a portrait of a father – a GP who is so busy healing everyone else’s pain that he has little time to tend to himself. Chessie Henry is an extraordinary writer with a maturity and insight that will make you laugh and cry all at once. You’ll love the Henrys. And if this wasn’t enough We Can Make a Life has just appeared on the US’s Slate.com’s top 10 books of 2019.
6. The story of a Malaysian woman whose thirty-year marriage to her Norwegian husband ends when he dies suddenly, The Way Through the Woods: On Mushrooming and Mourning is filled with heart-stoppingly beautiful passages. It’s quirky and full of the joys of life even against the backdrop of death. If you loved Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, this book is for you.
7. Elizabeth Bryer’s From Here On, Monsters is a dystopian tale that starts with a young woman who has inherited a bookshop and takes on extra work to help pay the bills. If you like experimentation and a book that is also a riddle, you'll love this one. Tara June Winch has said “This is more than a book of secrets, codes, geniuses, history and language.”
8. One Hundred Years of Dirt by Rick Morton hits you like a tonne of bricks; it's an unflinching memoir in which the mother is a hero who is never rewarded. After a horrific accident thrusts his mother and siblings into a world impossible for them to navigate, a life of poverty and drug addiction, Rick's life changes forever. This book is a glorious testimony to the strength of familial love and endurance.
9.The Future Keepers is written by Nandi Chinna who was the first ever Writer-in-Residence at Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Written in honour of the scientists at Kings Park who maintain a seed-bank of plant species for future generations, The Future Keepers is a collection of poems that contemplate what we might leave for future generations. A beautiful local read.
10. From the best-selling author of The Slap and Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas’s new book Damascus is a work of soaring ambition, taking as its subject nothing less than events surrounding the birth and establishment of the Christian church. In Damascus, Tsiolkas has written an historical novel of immense power.