Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn

This could well be the crime debut of the year. Set in a turbulent South Africa in the 1950's, Detective Emmanuel Cooper is called in to investigate the murder of an Afrikaans police office, Captain Willem Pretorius. Blending racial politics, sexual tension and family intrigue, Nunn has written a truly gripping thriller.I don’t normally read crime fiction but after reading the first chapter I couldn’t stop and although it is the oldest cliche in the book this is an absolute page-turner. This book introduces us to Cooper and some other memorable and frightening characters and promises to be the beginning of a very popular series. It is due to be released in September. Greg

Man Booker Longlist Announced

Thirteen books have been selected to make up the longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction, including Michelle de Kretser's The Lost Dog and Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole.

The full list is available here.

Friday, 25 July 2008

It's Your Choice

Voting is now open in this year's Eureka Prizes People's Choice Award. The six finalists include an immunologist who discovered a gene responsible for the autoimmune diseases lupus and diabetes, a microbiologist whose research could save thousands of people from disease caused by a flesh-eating bacterium and a biologist who is working to save endangered frogs species from a deadly fungus.

By voting you have a chance to win some great prizes, including gift vouchers from Abbey's.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Crime book wins the Samuel Johnson Prize

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale has won the 2008 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction.

Here is what Rosie Boycott, the Chair of the judges had to say about the winner: “The Suspicions of Mr Whicher is a dramatic page-turning detective yarn of a real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction. Kate Summerscale has brilliantly merged scrupulous archival research with vivid storytelling that reads with the pace of a Victorian thriller. The book is a rare work of non-fiction that mimics suspense genre and leaves one gripped until the final paragraph. Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard, who became the most celebrated detective of his day, is a complex, shabby character who immediately conjures up images of the scruffy looking LA cop, Columbo and even of Rebus. The Road Hill murder case was to dominate newspaper headlines and caused national hysteria, and inspired a generation of novelists from Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins to Conan Doyle.”

This is the 10th year of the Samuel Johnson Prize. Previous winners include Stalingrad by Antony Beevor, 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro and Stasiland by Anna Funder.

Wanting for nothing

Last night I had the pleasure of having dinner with Richard Flanagan, who is in Sydney putting the finishing touches to his novel Wanting, which is due out in November.

The dinner was organised by two of the wonderful people at Random House, John O'Brien & Brett Osmond, and joining us were some of Sydney's leading booksellers.

Wanting is based on a true story involving an aboriginal girl, the explorer Sir John Franklin and his wife, and Charles Dickens. It sounds like another great read from one of Australias's leading writers. It will also look great - it's going to be a beautifully produced hardback with a charcoal ribbon marker. Dave

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Midnight's Children wins Best of the Booker

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children has just been named the winner of the Best of the Booker award. The six shortlisted titles were chosen by a panel of judges, and the decision then went to a public poll. Midnight's Children won with 36% of the vote.

This is the third time Midnight's Children has won a "Booker", after it won the 1981 Booker Prize and the Booker of Bookers in 1993.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point has a new book coming out later this year. It's called Outliers, and in it Gladwell asks what makes high-achievers different? The answer, he suggests, has a lot to do with a person's culture, family, their generation and the idiosyncatic experiences of their upbringing.

It's due to be published in December, and you can order it here.