Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Gift Guide

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift? Look no further, we’ve got you covered.

For political junkies

Presenting the one and only Mr Paul Keating – at his straight-shooting, scumbag-calling, merciless best.

Paul lets rip – on John Howard: “The little desiccated coconut is under pressure and he is attacking anything he can get his hands on.”

On Peter Costello: “The thing about poor old Costello is he is all tip and no iceberg.”

On John Hewson: “[His performance] is like being flogged with a warm lettuce.”

On Andrew Peacock: “...what we have here is an intellectual rust bucket.”

And that’s just a taste.

‘We were a motley mob, we sans-culottes of Canberra . . . ’

In this vastly entertaining book, Mungo MacCallum captures the spirit of a nation-changing time.  He portrays the Whitlam government's key figures – from Gough and Margaret to Lionel Murphy, Bill Hayden and Jim Cairns – as well as 'the other mob' in opposition – Billy McMahon, John Gorton, Malcolm Fraser and many more. 

For lovers of a good yarn

When you're born into a dynasty of champions, any sin will be forgiven so long as you maintain the winning streak. But what if that's not the life you want?

“This outstanding novel … is a nuanced indictment of a sporting culture that forgives appalling behaviour in our heroes.” – Books+Publishing

The Family Men is an intense distillation of the darkness that falls after the Friday and Saturday night lights have been turned out. This novel is shocking because it is so believable. Sometimes you hear football insiders mutter about a scandal in the game, ‘It’s worse than you think.’ Catherine Harris has cut right through to that shadowy truth, and come back with horror, yes, but also a sign of hope.” – Malcolm Knox

Rosie and Nona are sisters. Yapas.

They are also best friends. It doesn’t matter that Rosie is white and Nona is Aboriginal: their family connections tie them together for life.

When a political announcement highlights divisions between the Aboriginal community and the mining town, Rosie is put in a difficult position: will she have to choose between her first love and her oldest friend?

“A fascinating book, beautifully told, with rich insight into a deeply Australian but little known community.” – Jackie French

“Rosie’s story brims with the joy and pain and complexity of friendship and love at sixteen. I adored this smart, heartfelt book about family, kinship, country, and finding out what really matters.” – Fiona Wood

When my dad dropped us off at the front gate, the first things I saw were the rose garden spreading out on either side of the main driveway and the enormous sign in iron cursive letters spelling out LAURINDA. No 'Ladies College' after it, of course; the name was meant to speak for itself.

“Alice Pung totally nails it with Laurinda. Funny, horrifying, and sharp as a serpent’s fangs.” – John Marsden

“a candid and powerful exploration of family, culture and class … it is those of us who take our fortune and privilege for granted that I wish would read this powerful book.” – Readings Monthly

For those who prefer a gripping true story

Acute Misfortune is a riveting account of the life and death of one of Australia's most celebrated artists, the man behind the Archibald Prize–winning portrait of David Wenham. Jensen follows Cullen through drug deals and periods of deep self-reflection, onwards into his court appearance for weapons possession and finally his death in 2012 at the age of forty-six. The story is by turns tender and horrifying: a spare tale of art, sex, drugs and childhood, told at close quarters and without judgement.

“Fierce and spellbinding” – David Marr

“The terrible force of the painter’s rush to self-destruction is matched all the way by the writer’s calm mastery of his story.” – Helen Garner

“A teasing and complex ode to a man who defied attempts to categorise him or to understand him. Jensen’s portrait dares to be both beautiful and ugly - that is, he is both tender and forensic. This is a marvellous, propulsive, intelligent read.” – Christos Tsiolkas

For those who are curious about what makes us tick

Terrence Holt, whose In the Valley of the Kings was hailed as a 'work of genius' (New York Times) and made Amazon's Top Ten Short Story Collections of the year, brings a writer's eye to his experiences as a first-year graduate doctor. 

Personal, poignant and meticulously precise, Holt's writing evokes Chekhov, Maugham, and William Carlos Williams. Internal Medicine is an account of what it means to be a doctor, to be mortal, and to be human.

“[Terrence Holt] is Melville + Poe + Borges but with a heart far more capacious.” – Junot Díaz

“Terrence Holt writes with unflinching honesty about all the fears, joys and brutalities of a junior doctor's work.” – Karen Hitchcock

“Holt dissects the medical experience in exquisite and restrained prose.” - New York Times

In The Invisible History of the Human Race, Christine Kenneally reveals that, remarkably, it is not only our biological history that is coded in our DNA, but also our social history.  She breaks down myths of determinism and draws on cutting-edge research to explore how both historical artefacts and our DNA tell us where we have come from and where we may be going.

“Kenneally offers a rich, thoughtful blend of science, social science and philosophy in a manner that mixes personal history with the history of the human species.” – Publishers Weekly

“magnificently rich and sweeping in scope, in impeccable yet intimate prose” – Cordelia Fine

“a bold and absorbing work” – Weekend Australian

“original and provocative” - New Yorker 

For poetry lovers

Gwen Harwood's work is defined by a moving sensuality, a twinkling irreverence, and a sly wit. This anthology brings together the best 100 of her poems, as selected and compiled by her son, the writer John Harwood.

“The outstanding Australian poet of the twentieth century” – Peter Porter

“Gwen Harwood’s poetry is widely recognised for its stark intimacy and brilliant resonance” – The Sydney Morning Herald

“This elegant volume seems designed purely for pleasure, and in this purpose it entirely succeeds.” – Australian Book Review

For those interested in the best Australian writing of 2014

Now in their fourteenth year, The Best Australian Stories, Essays and Poems anthologies collect Australia’s best writing by new and established writers. 

This year's collections feature Christos Tsiolkas, Robyn Davidson, J.M. Coetzee, Tim Winton, Helen Garner, Noel Pearson, Clive James, Carrie Tiffany, David Malouf, Karen Hitchcock, Anna Krien, Kirsten Tranter, Leah Swann, Ryan O’Neill, Melanie Joosten, David Brooks, Les Murray, Robert Adamson, Clive James, Judith Beveridge, Maria Takolander, Lisa Gorton, Peter Rose, John Kinsella, John Tranter and many more.

For those after a transformative summer read

In the tradition of Wild and Tracks, one woman's story of how she left the city and found her soul.
Disillusioned and burnt out by her job, Claire Dunn quits a comfortable life to spend a year off the grid in a wilderness survival program. Her new forest home swings between ally and enemy as reality – and the rain – sets in.

Brimming with earthy charm and hard-won wisdom, My Year Without Matches is one woman's quest for belonging, to the land and to herself. When Claire finally cracks life in the bush wide open, she discovers a wild heart to warm the coldest night.

“A brave and adventurous book … Claire’s writing is full of life and profound surprises.” – Anne Deveson

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Nona & Me Launch

Nona & Me by Clare Atkins was launched recently at the Yirrkala Art Centre in the Northern Territory, check out some of the photos from a great night!

Clare and Merrki before the launch, alongside the beautiful display of books and ghost-net baskets

Signing books!

Clare's Yolngu family – momo Dhanggal, namala Lena and wawa Yotjin, and Clare's baby Nina

Nona & Me and some traditional baskets woven with pandanus and ghost-nets (discarded fishing nets) by Merrki's sisters

Siena performing a contemporary dance of the Bayani
Buy Nona & Me from Bookworld, and Black Inc. and Bookworld will donate $2 from every copy sold before Wednesday October 8th to the Indigenous Literary Foundation!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Artists In The Park

Holiday in Cambodia author Laura Jean McKay spent a month with the Territory Wildlife Park in Darwin as part of their Artists in the Park program. She shares some of her experiences with us.

Exhibit A

The thing about living in a caravan in the middle of The Territory Wildlife Park for five weeks is that I’m never away from the animals. At night they chew plants (or each other?) outside my screen window, making the pandanas rattle like bones. In the mornings they wake me with a lilting tune, ending in a rusty squawk. In the afternoons they lay as 3.5 metres of carpet python across the step that accesses the toilet. At dusk they bite with swarming ferocity or call with longing howls – high note to low – from their enclosures. Then there are the human animals. All khaki and reptile-handling, they’re no less intense.

I find that the dawns and dusks are quietest. When I hear the last of the tourists roar out the gates, I set out from the caravan along the hot Park roads. Just me and the birds – exhibited and wild. One night I hear the zoo train chug along after-hours and it pulls up alongside me carrying carriages full of kids.
‘You know the Park is closed?’ The guide driving the train calls out to me over his microphone.
I emerge from between some purple flowering turkey bushes, brandishing a notebook. ‘Oh. I’m the Artist-in-the-Park.’
‘You’re what?’
‘The Artist-in-the-Park everyone!’ The guide announces. The children wave and point at me. I’ve watched tourists do this to the animals exhibited throughout the place (‘Look Jason, a dingo. A DINGO!’) and I stand there, feeling my rib cage broaden, the fur sprout on my back, and produce a few distinctive calls from my muzzle. I have become an exhibit.

I arrive at the Territory Wildlife Park in July during the dry season cooler months and stay on to the start of the build-up, a time when, ostensibly, everyone goes mad. And there is a madness here – different to the madness I’m used to. Australia is divided in two: the ‘top end’ and ‘down south’. As a southerner I am constantly encouraged to move up – to where the animals and insects are bigger and the cars are bigger and the food is better and more expensive. Crocs and cars and culture. But inside the Jurassic Park style gates of the Wildlife Park, the minute world of the Northern Territory is revealed. I reduce my life to 4 x 2 metres of brown caravan, while my mind tries to take in the vast expanse of the Park, on Koongurukan traditional country, and all the animals enclosed there.

A wildlife park is like fiction: a reconstructed environment, where you can experience nature as you would never get to see it in the wild. By day I feed a 4.5 metre crocodile called Graham from the safety of a deck, by hanging a bit of chicken on a string. I visit two joeys to help them to get used to humans: one of them only wants to lick my hand; the other only wants to bite it. I am nuzzled by an endangered northern quoll. I gingerly circle wild pythons to interview people who keep frill necked lizards in their pockets as part of a socialisation program and who spend their every moment thinking about, protecting and working with wildlife. I’m here to write a novel about animals, but I can barely do it. There’s too much. I scribble, record, take footage – my pockets brim with media.

By the fifth week I have animal facts, animal scratches, animal noises, animal-themed performance credits and animal books to read. Not much animal writing. This is a research residency, I conclude, not a writing one. But I am only 10,000 words from the end of a novel draft. So I sit down at the caravan formica and shake the enclosure with typing. It’s a creepy, insular space, where the novel becomes more real than life and for a day or so, the Park fades into fiction. My neighbours – herpetologists (reptile experts) – peer in at me, offering beer and food through the screen door. I adjust the final words a few times. Then my immediate reaction is to stand and retch into the sink and I do, but nothing comes: I have nothing left. I take a beer outside. There’s a sunset hovering over the Park like a spaceship. An agile wallaby crashes through the bushes. The mosquitos find me and bite. I watch the trees against the fading sky. I watch the sun go and then turn and walk barefoot back to the van.

Laura Jean McKay's collection of short stories, Holiday In Cambodia, is out now.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sam Vincent on objectivity in investigative journalism

Sam Vincent is the author of Blood & Guts: Dispatches from the Whale Wars

Here, Sam writes about objectivity in investigative journalism.

After spending nearly two years researching, reporting and writing Blood and Guts, I’m sick of people who deal in absolute dichotomies. Eco-warriors or poachers; scientists or eco-terrorists; floating steaks or minds-in-the-water; goodies or baddies … I was attracted to the Antarctic whaling controversy because in it I see so many shades of grey: legally, ethically, environmentally and politically. But so many people just see a chequerboard of right and wrong; a point by which they can fix their moral compass.

I was continually asked if I was ‘pro-whaling’ or ‘anti-whaling’. Aren’t I allowed to think that the efforts of Washington State’s Makah Tribe to reclaim its cultural heritage by hunting gray whales, after being smashed by American expansionism for the previous 200 years, is a beautiful thing? Can’t I recognise that Iceland returned to the International Whaling Commission in 2002 with a reservation on the global whaling moratorium, but disagree with its subsequent decision to hunt endangered fin whales? Am I not able to celebrate the fact that the arrival of grog and missionaries didn’t stop Alaska’s Inupiat from hunting bowheads – and celebrate the fact that since commercial whaling in the Arctic ceased, bowheads, once threatened with extinction, are increasing steadily? Can’t I hold all these views and question why Japan maintains a program of negligible scientific esteem for a product its public doesn’t want?

But I didn’t seem to be allowed a nuanced view: it’s one or the other, you’re one of them or one of us. Whaling divides and unites, creating a demarcation, a fracture, a border between peoples. So how do you remain objective when the stakes are that high?

This is a work of gonzo journalism; I think it is extremely subjective. But it doesn’t pick sides. I approached this topic as objectively as I could, but after spending three months at sea with Sea Shepherd, visiting Japan three times and attending the recent International Court of Justice case at The Hague, I began to see that small-minded populism from all sides of the ‘whale wars’ is prolonging a conflict that should have been solved decades ago.

The closer to the middle of a story a reporter gets, the more exposed they become to criticism. But my favourite journalists aren’t afraid to be iconoclastic; to position themselves as truth-tellers unbeholdened to any side. This is why I love the writing of Matt Taibbi, Rian Malan, Michael Hastings and Janet Malcolm; and in Australia, of Anna Krien, Helen Garner and David Marr. None of them write to make friends, nor for people who have already made up their minds. It’s a lonely position to be in, but as an investigative journalist who values independence above everything else, that’s precisely where I want to be.

Blood & Guts: Dispatches from the Whale Wars by Sam Vincent is available now in all good bookstores.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

10 writing tips for emerging writers

Author Catherine Harris shares her top ten writing tips.

1. Take yourself seriously while at the same time not taking yourself too seriously.

2. Avoid the company of anyone who doesn't know the difference.

3. Write every day.

4. Revise, revise, revise, and then revise some more.

5. Cultivate thoughtful readers (they might not be writers) for pull-no-punches feedback.

6. Criticism and praise are useful only in so far as they advance your work; treat them with the qualified respect they deserve.

7. Immerse yourself in the writing community until you develop a rash.

8. Then apply calamine lotion and avoid the writing community like the plague.

9. Be generous (to others, to yourself).

10. Don’t give up.

Catherine Harris’ novel The Family Men is available now in all good bookstores.

The Family Men will be launched by Tony Birch at the Melbourne Writers Festival at 1pm on Saturday 30th August, for more information visit the Melbourne Writers Festival website.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Teacher Evening at Black Inc.

Meet Black Inc. authors Alice Pung and Clare Atkins

Come and meet Alice Pung, author of Unpolished Gem and editor of Growing up Asian in Australia, and Clare Atkins, author of Nona & Me.

Alice will speak about her new novel Laurinda, set in an exclusive girls school, and Clare will speak about her novel Nona & Me, which is set in Arnhem Land, and is the story of two friends, Rosie, who is white, and Nona, who is Aboriginal.

Free event, all welcome. Refreshments provided.
Date: Tuesday 19th August 2014
Time: 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start
Location: Black Inc. Office, 37-39 Langridge St, Collingwood VIC 3066 (on the corner of Langridge and Cambridge streets)
Bookings: Free event but numbers are limited, so please RSVP by Friday 15th August to enquiries@blackincbooks.com.

If you live interstate and are unable to attend and are interested in receiving information about Laurinda and Nona & Me, please contact Elisabeth Young on enquiries@blackincbooks.com.

Friday, August 8, 2014

National Bookshop Day


To celebrate National Bookshop Day on Saturday 9th August we asked some Black Inc. authors to tell us about their favourite bookshops.


Alice Pung

"My favourite bookshop is Readings in Lygon Street, in Melbourne. I have been going there since I was 20 - such a warm and friendly place. They are so supportive of local writers - my favourite memory was when Helen Garner launched my book Her Father's Daughter there and made my dad all teary."

Alice Pung's novel Laurinda will be published in November 2014

David Hunt

"If you like books, and I do, you can’t go past Newtown’s Better Read Than Dead. The staff are both friendly and informed and I love haunting its zen-corridor space. Abbey’s Bookshop is an institution that hasn’t dated and its adoption of Galaxy means that’s where I go for my regular sci-fi and fantasy fixes. Pages & Pages in Mosman has the advantage of being well-stocked with Jon Page, a bookseller par excellence. Readings in Carlton is my home away from home and Berkelouw Book Barn at Berrima has the best book and burger combo in Australia."

David Hunt is the author of Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia

Andrew Leigh

"Around the corner from my office, in the newly funkifying suburb of Braddon, sits Electric Shadows. Its tall bookshelves are a browser’s delight, and the owners generously host book launches and other literary events. Even on those days when I’m too busy to pop inside, Electric Shadows’ ever-changing book displays give me a chance to see what’s just been released. Like so many bookstores around Australia, it contributes to making us a smarter and more interesting nation."


Anna Goldsworthy

"In Adelaide, I enjoy Mostly Books in Mitcham. Its staff are warm and helpful and clearly readers (you can recognise one a mile away). It supports local authors and knitting circles. And it has a table of highly seductive toys. In Melbourne, Readings."

Anna Goldsworthy is the author of Welcome to Your New Life


Brad Hutchins

"As I live in both the Gold Coast and Brisbane I have two local favourites who are friends and have been really supportive with my book launch.

Nobby Beach bookstore, on the Gold Coast, is a vibrant little family run book-exchange nestled amongst the ever-popular stretch of cafes, restaurants and bars of Nobby Beach. John and Leah moved up from Tassie years ago for a bit of warm weather and have run the store ever since. They have a wide range of used books and a great exchange program that rewards loyal, avid readers. They also stock new books with a great selection of classics, non-fiction and new releases. But what I really dig about this store is the friendly and helpful staff who are all enthusiastic supporters of Australian writers, with a genuine love for the written word. Ask them for a recommendation – they’ve read ‘em all!

Karen and Michael are the friendly owners of Books @ Stones in Brisbane; a wicked store in the middle of Brissy’s bustling ‘burb of Stones Corner. Their shop has it all, and they do a great job of helping people delve through their extensive range to find a winner. If they don’t happen to have the one you’re chasing, they’ll gladly order it in. What stands out about this shop is the commitment they have to helping Australian writers. They’re constantly organising events for local authors. With such professional, passionate people keeping a thumb on the pulse of the publishing world, it’s no wonder they run such a fantastic operation."


Claire Dunn

"Last year I moved to a leafy little townhouse in Glebe, Sydney. It was a great location for an avid walker. While in one direction I would meet harbour, in the other, I would invariably end up at Gleebooks. During my university years it held a kind of mystique; wandering the aisles  I occasionally allowed myself to wonder whether anything I wrote would ever adorn its shelves. Fifteen years hence I still love the feel it has of a bookshop full of secret corners and unusual finds, but yet organised with care and attention. I find the books I want, and those that lay waiting for me to discover them. Each visit is an adventure, these days with the added treasure of locating my book amongst the spines."

Friday, July 4, 2014

7 tips for writing history by John Hirst

“The documents are not the world; they are the surviving traces of the world you have to imagine.” – John Hirst

1. In research don’t start at the beginning and hope to reach the end; work over the whole period the whole of the time.

2. If all the books agree, look at the evidence again (they may have been copying each other).

3. Play with titles and tables of contents soon after you start—the research will change these and then they will guide the research. 

4. Use the documents to find the passions and preoccupations of your people—and write about those.

5. Don’t refer to organisations by acronyms; use short titles. The longer the list of abbreviations, the worse the book.

6. Don’t write with your notes close at hand. The documents are not the world; they are the surviving traces of the world you have to imagine.

7. Read over your notes for the next part—and then sleep. Don’t get up until you have decided on an opening sentence.

John Hirst’s latest book Australian History in 7 Questions is available now in all good bookstores.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

7 Surprising Things about Australian History

In Australian History in 7 Questions, historian John Hirst asks and answers the questions that get to the heart of Australia’s history.

Here John shares 7 surprising things about Australian history as found in Australian History in 7 Questions.

1. Australians are a very compliant people: they do what the government says.

2. Who paid for the convicts’ rum? Answer: The British taxpayer.

3. The House of Lords was a friend to democracy in Australia.

4. Who put on the biggest show for the opening of the first Federal Parliament? Answer: The Chinese.

5. The convicts are not the source of Australian anti-authoritarian attitudes.

6. In World War II it was Robert Menzies, not John Curtin, who first said we must look to America.

7. Multicultural society in Australia is becoming less diverse.

You can read about these surprising things and much more in John Hirst's Australian History in 7 Questions, available now in all good bookstores.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

10 Found Foods

In My Year Without Matches: Escaping the city in search of the wild, Claire Dunn tells her story of spending a year living off the grid in a wilderness survival program. Here she writes about some of the wild foods that she lived off.

In 2010 I embarked on a year of bush immersion, learning the arts of indigenous living, such as primitive fire lighting, tracking, basketry, bird language and building a shelter from natural materials. Bush food was a priority. While this wasn't Survivor, I wanted to eat as much as possible from the land. While initially a wall of green, gradually my forest home became a supermarket as I discovered the wild foods at my thatched doorstep. Here are ten of my favourites.

1. Native Grape  (Cissus hypoglauca)
Despite hanging in dark bunches of berries in late summer and autumn, comparing the five-leaf water vine to a grape is drawing a long straw. Tart, and with a bitter crunch if you fail to spit the seed, the rainforest native is still one of the more satisfying of bush berries, if only due to its abundance. It boils up into a great jam – even better when sweetened with bush honey.

2. Geebung (Persoonia virgata)
Affectionately known as a snotty-gobble, the pea-green fruit of the geebung are the all day suckers of the bush food world. Littering the ground in summer, I would fill my pockets and pop a couple in my mouth whenever I passed. Spit out the skin, and suck away on the sweet, fleshy seed coating.

3. Mountain Devil Flower (Lambertia formosa)
Devilishly spiky, the fire-engine-red flowers of the mountain devil also hold delicious nectar. Without the advantage of a honeyeater's long beak, you have to wrap your entire mouth over a flower in the early morning when the nectar runs thick, or steep it in water along with banksia flowers for a cordial.
4. Seaweed
A three-day solo mission to a remote beach tested my hunting and gathering skills. The variety of soft seaweeds in the rock pools provided excellent greens. Boiling them up with some pippies and a smudge of miso, I was a happy camper when I fell into my swag under a pandanus tree that night.

5. Roly-poly (Billardiera scandens)
When our local Gumbaynggirr guide spied the unripe oblong fruits of the roly-poly vine, his eyes gleamed. According to him, it is the holy grail of bush food, but near impossible to source before the possums do. It was therefore with some excitement that I stumbled upon a single ripe grey fruit on the ground in early summer. After removing the skin, the flesh was a cross between a kiwi and a blueberry, and by far the sweetest wild fruit I encountered.

6. Native Sarsaparilla (Smilax glyciphylla)
The new red leaves of the native sarsaparilla vine seem to illicit either love or hate. While slightly astringent, for me the Dr Pepper sarsaparilla flavour was a taste sensation. Apparently a great blood cleanser, it was great addition to a wild salad and worked just as well to delay thirst.

7. Flax Lily (Dianella)
The stunning indigo of the dianella berries look too good to be true. They're much more than eye candy though, and I had to remind myself to leave some for the birds when they fruited in abundance during summer. This versatile plant also offered me leaves for basket-weaving and string, and while the fruits can also be used as a blue dye, I wasn't about to waste them on such frivolities.

8. Sour Currant Bush (Leptomeria acida)
This nondescript spiky plant which scratched its name on my skin daily, redeemed itself when it sprouted dozens of tiny translucent edible berries. Aptly named, they reminded me of the sour candies I favoured as a kid. Still, apparently higher in vitamin C than any citrus, I snacked as I went – at least I wouldn't die of scurvy!

9. Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia)
A trip to the waterhole was never complete without a chew on a lomandra leaf. While not exactly curbing a carb craving, the base of the inner leaves delivers a good starch hit and has a sweet bok choy kind of taste. The remainder of the leaf joined the bunch drying in my shelter for basket-weaving.

10. Bulrush (Typhus)
This is one of those uber survival plants with more uses than I have space to list. The fresh roots and tubers were delicious when roasted on the coals, and necessitated a fun, muddy adventure to harvest. The fluffy 'cotton' in the seed head made excellent tinder for fire lighting.

My Year Without Matches: Escaping the city in search of the wild by Claire Dunn is available now in all good bookstores.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Are you looking for the perfect gift for your Mum for Mother's Day? Look no further!

Gazing at the Stars: Memories of a Child Survivor by Eva Slonim
Gazing at the Stars, Eva Slonim’s story of surviving the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, is told with the heartbreaking innocence of a thirteen-year-old girl and the wisdom of a woman of eighty-three. Eva’s lifelong commitment to educating the world about the Holocaust is an inspiration. If your Mum is a fan of memoirs like Night by Elie Wiesel, she'll love this.

Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton's candid, hilarious and deeply affecting look at beauty, aging and the importance of staying true to yourself. If your cinema-loving Mum liked A Story Lately Told by Anjelica Huston, she'll love this.

North of Normal: My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family and How I Survived Both by Cea Sunrise Person
From nature child in the Canadian wilderness to international model by the age of 13, North of Normal tells Cea Sunrise Person's story of extreme family dysfunction and ultimate triumph. If your Mum liked The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, she'll love this.

Sh*t Asian Mothers Say by Benjamin Law and Michelle Law, illustrated by Oslo Davis.
Benjamin Law and Michelle Law, the long-suffering children of an Asian Mother, bring you the hilarious Sh*t Asian Mothers Say, featuring the wisdom of Asian Mothers the world over. If your irreverent Mum likes cheeky blogs like When Parents Text, she'll love this.

Welcome to Your New Life by Anna Goldsworthy
Welcome to Your New Life captures the shock of leaving behind the life that you know and the thrill of starting the great adventure that is parenthood. If your Mum liked A Life's Work by Rachel Cusk, she'll love this.

Quarterly Essay 53 That Sinking Feeling: Asylum Seekers and the Search for the Indonesian Solution by Paul Toohey
Paul Toohey looks at one of Tony Abbott's signature election promises: to stop the boats. Has his government succeeded? At what cost? If your politically savvy Mum liked Political Animal by David Marr, she'll love this.

The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow by A.J. Mackinnon
Join A.J. Mackinnon, your charming and eccentric guide, on an unforgettable voyage in a boat called Jack de Crow. If your Mum liked Tracks by Robyn Davidson, she'll love this.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Robyn Annear's 5 Favourite Places in Melbourne

This month, we are delighted to be re-releasing Robyn Annear's much loved histories of Melbourne, Bearbrass: Imagining Early Melbourne and A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker's Melbourne. We gave Robyn the difficult task of choosing her five favourite places in Melbourne:

Monument to indignation
A pillar of Stawell sandstone stands in the lee of the Exhibition Building, placed there c. 1880 at the insistence of John Woods, MP, “to express his indignation at the choice of New South Wales stone for Parliament House & to show the enduring qualities of the local stone”.

Photo from The Tumbrel Diaries
Behind the Windsor Hotel
Laneway behind the Hotel Windsor where you can see in the hotel’s rear wall (at the Bourke Street end), bricks from the demolished Eastern Market used in constructing the hotel extension in 1960. (But be quick – this wall too is soon due for demolition.)

Parliament House
Climbing the steps feels grand; inside, the parliamentary chambers are surprisingly bijou.

Parliament House

Ghost Ship of Wills Street
Mid-to late morning, depending on the season, plant yourself in La Trobe Street downhill from William and cast your gaze up and northwards. You just might see a ghost ship high on a west-facing wall in Wills Street, its uncanny square-rigged sails formed by reflected sunlight from windows in the building opposite. (Flagstaff Hill, adjacent, was in former times the city’s vantage point for shipping. Nowadays, for a comparable nautical thrill, you have to turn your back on the Bay.)

Slice of the city
Little William Street runs between Bourke and Little Bourke, the dome of the Supreme Court library floating above one end. Lanes like this one convey a sense of the topography that underlies the city. The narrower the aperture, the better for reading the tilt of the land.

Bearbrass and A City Lost and Found are now available in print and electronic editions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Asian Mother’s Ten Commandments, which thou dare not forget.

1.    Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2.    Thou shalt not talk back.
3.    Thou shalt take off thou shoes to keep thine floors clean.
4.    Honour thy father and mother – mainly mother.
5.    Thou shalt not kill (me).
6.    Thou shalt not sleepover.
7.    Thou shalt marry nice Asian partner and bear sons.
8.    Thou shalt have bob haircuts.
9.    Thou shalt not badmouth others … to their face.
10.    Thou shalt not covet, except maybe your cousin’s career; he is doing very well for himself; you could be more like him.

Find this, voicemail bingo, fashion and beauty tips, maternal Asian wisdom and much more in Sh*t Asian Mothers Say by Benjamin Law and Michelle Law, with illustrations by Oslo Davis. Out now in print and ebook.

Friday, March 7, 2014

International Women's Day

International Women's Day is an annual event celebrating the achievements of women past and present. We like to think that includes all women, even fictional women. So, in honour of International Women's Day, Nero and Black Inc. writers pick their favourite fictional female characters!

Phillip Taylor

"You never forget your first love and the first female character I fell for was Pippi Longstocking. I loved her free-spiritedness and her irresistible reasoning that she wanted to go to school just so she could have school holidays. And, as an ineffectual man, I’ve also long admired Lady Macbeth. Sure, it didn’t end well for her, but she knew how to get something done."

Phillip Taylor's first book High on Hawthorn: The Road to the 2013 Premiership was released in March 2014.

Robyn Annear

"Moominmamma, from Tove Jansson's Moomin stories for children, lives for me as the most vivid female character in literature. While her husband exists on the brink or in the grip of a perennial nervous breakdown, Moominmamma is not only unflappable ('That's nice, dear') but blesses their child with that blend of unwavering love and benign neglect exhibited by all the best children's-book parents. Plus, there's her handbag: repository of every needful comfort, it must almost rank as a superpower. (Come to think of it, she's probably the nearest thing in literature to a portrait of my own mum.)"

Robyn Annear is the author of Bearbrass: Imagining Early Melbourne and A City Lost & Found: Whelan the Wrecker's Melbourne which will be reprinted by Black Inc. in April 2014.

Catherine Deveny

"Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz is my favourite literary hero. What a woman! You gotta love her guts, determination, bravery and awesome shoes. That costume! Nailed it. I really, really related with her as a little 12-year-old trapped in my black and white world of suburbia, heteronormity and Catholicism. She broke through into the technicolor magical land, which, like everything amazing, had its dangers. In Oz she was able to see everything for what it was. When she pulls back the curtain, revealing that the Wizard Of Oz was actually just a mere mortal, well, I cheer every time! Many people believe the movie is about menarche (a girl getting her first period). To me it's about atheism. Hell is truth seen too late and the truth will set you free."

Catherine Deveny is the author of The Happiness Show.

Claire Dunn

"It's inside the covers of Monica Furlong's Wise Child chronicles, a seldom known young-adult fantasy series written in the late 1980s, that my heroine is found. Set in a remote Scottish village soon after King Arthur's time, nine-year-old Wise Child is taken in by Juniper, a wise healer and sorceress. Living under the constant threat of persecution, Juniper lives peacefully with her plants and goats. She is powerful and knowledgeable and yet with a gentle lightness of heart. Oh, how I wanted to be Wise Child taken under Juniper's wing!"

Claire Dunn's first book My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild will be published by Nero in June 2014.

Michelle Law

"Jane Eyre, for her strength of character to stand by her convictions despite mistreatment and then, temptation. I love her sensitivity and her resilience; she’s able to grow from difficulties instead of being destroyed by them. And more recently, Plum from Sonya Hartnett’s Butterfly – one of the most gripping and realistic portrayals of a young woman that I’ve ever read."

Michelle Law is the co-author (with Benjamin Law) of Sh*t Asian Mother's Say.

Who is your favourite female fictional character? Leave your answer in the comments section to win a free copy of The Happiness Show by Catherine Deveny.

Friday, February 21, 2014

An Update on Awards


Anna Krien's incredible second book Night Games: Sex, Power & Sport has been longlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize.

Here's what the judges had to say:
Following in the footsteps of Truman Capote, Janet Malcolm and, closer to home, Helen Garner, Anna Krien explores the facts, the claims and the ramifications surrounding a court case in which a Melbourne footballer was tried for the rape of a young woman. Anna Krien follows the arguments and assumptions that are made as the trial unfolds, her discussion spreading out in circles of argument and questioning to examine the wider contexts of this story. Krien’s interrogation of her own relationship to the events she is recording, and the validity of her role as reporter and commentator, is a part of this book’s achievement in opening up questions and judgements about the case rather than closing them down.

The book does not merely examine the trial and the events leading up to it, but, more significantly, uses that particular story as a way of engaging with wider contemporary debates about rape and consent, as well as about the powerful sub-cultures of the big football codes, and the attitudes to women that predominate there. Krien deftly and lucidly explores the grey areas: between experience and memory, between consent and rape, between the law and justice. While Krien maintains no pretence of objectivity about these issues or the perceptions, emotions and vulnerabilities of everyone concerned, she manages to step back from the action at each point to examine every facet of the trial itself and its wider implications: for the media, for society, for sport and for women.
The 2014 Stella Prize shortlist will be announced at 12 noon AEDT on Thursday 20 March, and the 2014 Stella Prize will be awarded in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday 29 April.

Here's what other readers are saying about Night Games:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day lovers and book-lovers! Black Inc. & Nero have some book recommendations for those in all states of relationship.

For those loved up couples in the ‘honeymoon state’


Love Poems by Dorothy Porter has to be the obvious choice for couples in the fresh stages of romance. Pack a picnic lunch and read aloud to each other some of Dorothy’s fresh and luscious verse: “Love has taken me by the throat and forced my heart upwards,” SWOON.

Valentine / Schmalentine


So you think Valentine’s Day is cheesy/corporate/lame. We get the feeling Catherine Deveny does too. Spend a bit of time in her company this weekend with her debut novel The Happiness Show. It’s romance without the cheese.

Single and loving it.


Who needs a relationship when you can have a new boyfriend every night! A new ROCKSTAR boyfriend! One Way or Another is Nikki McWatter’s eye-opening tale of her life as a teenage groupie in the 80s. INXS, Australian Crawl, Duran Duran. Big hair, big music and big life! 

Single and not loving it.


After he couldn't get a date to save his life, Daniel Stern decided to take an alternative approach to love. Namely: swinging. Swingland is Daniel’s journey from lonely guy to sexual veteran through the strange, strange swinging community. It could be just the guide you need...

What’s your favourite Valentine’s Day read? Leave your answer in the comments to win a free copy of one of these four books!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Best Australian Writing 2014

Black Inc. is pleased to announce the editors of this year's Best Australian Stories, Essays and Poems anthologies. Amanda Lohrey will edit The Best Australian Stories 2014, Robert Manne will edit The Best Australian Essays 2014, and Geoff Page will edit The Best Australian Poems 2014.

Submissions are now open and guidelines can be found at http://bestaustralianwriting.com.au/submissions 

The editors selections will be announced in October 2014.

Friday, February 7, 2014

20 x 3: Eliminating your belly fat in an hour a week


Think slogging it out at the gym five days a week will help you shed unwanted tummy fat? Think again. A 12-year study conducted by Dr Steve Boutcher at the University of New South Wales has proven that just 1 hour of interval sprinting a week achieves better results than five hours of intense aerobic exercise a week.

The trick is to exercise smarter not harder, and with 20 x 3, it’s all about the technique. The 20 x 3 plan for optimum fat burning involves repeated sprinting at near all-out intensity for 8 seconds followed by low intensity exercising for 12 seconds, for a period of 20 minutes. You can sprint using a skipping rope, a rowing machine, or even boxing, but the best place to start for beginners is the humble exercise bike. It’s easy to keep time and you can adjust the resistance of the bike to suit your fitness level.