Sisonke’s Top 5 Summer Reads
This year’s summer reads are all about losing yourself in different worlds and different times.
It’s been a long and exhausting year. So this year’s summer reads are all about losing yourself in different worlds and different times.
In other words, we’re letting books sweep us away into alternate times and dimensions. And of course, my favourite reads of the year were all created right here in Western Australia.
1. Death Leaves the Station
This book will have you giggling on the beach as much as it will leave you shaking your head as you follow Ana on the adventures through the wheatbelt.
From hometown hero Alexander Thorpe comes a story that echoes Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock with deadpan Aussie style and a twist of wheatbelt humour.
A heartfelt and frightening look at what happens in the future when human ingenuity goes too far.
A woman desperate for another child agrees to have her embryo’s genes ‘edited’ using groundbreaking new technology. Little does she know that the procedure carried out by the company called LIFEBLOOD will create a baby that isn’t fully human. In spite of the science, the child is fully hers.
This book will grab you by the throat and its a real bonus that its talented author Donna Mazza lives and teaches in Perth.
3. Father of the Lost Boys
A surprisingly funny and heart warming tale of survival.
Tracing the journey of the Lost Boys across four years and thousands of kilometres, Yuot Alaak’s moving account of a terrifying chapter of his life.
Be warned – you will cry! But you'll also be in awe of Yuot’s capacity to bring to life an incredible cast of characters — including a stray dog that literally saved his life. Now settled in Perth with an engineering job and a view of the city from his high rise office, Yuot is the role-model you never knew you needed.
An unforgettable read.
4. The History of Mischief
A stunning debut novel about Jessie and Kay, sisters who discover an adventure book after their grandmother’s death.
The book they find under the floorboards on their gran’s house is unlike anything they have ever seen, and it opens up a portal into other worlds. As they begin to realise the power and magic of the book, Jessie is determined to get to the bottom of the truth. Rebecca Higgie is an extraordinary writer and like everyone else on this list, she proves that Perth is more than ok.
5. Smart Ovens for Lonely People
Elizabeth Tan’s award-winning latest short story collection that tells stories about a quirky set of characters and uses her trademark inventiveness to add surprising twists at every turn.
Smart Ovens is full of the wit and social commentary readers have come to expect from Tan. As the Sydney Morning Herald notes, Tan has written, “an utterly original book,” that will “mess with your mind and make you laugh like a drain.” Like so many of the authors featured in this year’s Festival, Tan is part of the local writing scene and deservedly packs houses at readings and events.
Lover of non-fiction?
There is Rebecca Giggs’ wonderfully written and lyrical Fathoms: The world in the whale, which tells the story of humans and their relationships with whales. A writer for the New Yorker, Science and Nature who grew up in Perth, Rebecca will be here live and in the flesh so read her book and come ask her questions.
I also loved We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know by Sophie McNeill, an international journalist who’s returned her Perth roots to remind us of the world beyond our shores and the responsibility we all have to solve collective problems. And as a new generation of writers emerges I’ve really enjoyed Maar Bidi: Next-Generation Black Writing, which is edited by Elfie Shiosaki and Linda Martin.