The Big Issue : Edition 474
BOOKS THE BIG ISSUE 26 DEC 2014 – 8 JAN 2015 41 PICTURE THE NAME Maxine Beneba Clarke surrounded by a starry constellation, because Clarke is high-wattage talent. A champion in performance slam poetry, Clarke knows all about rhythm, timing and ellipsis and she applies that to her debut collection of short stories. Foreign Soil comprises 10 tales that explore cultural displacement, refuge and exile. Her socio-political themes are nuanced and complex – no soapbox polemics here. The anthology roams globally, with pit stops in Uganda, New Orleans, Brixton, Melbourne and Sydney. What’s particularly interesting is Clarke’s refusal to buy into the ‘black equals victim’ stereotype. Oppression certainly exists in the hierarchy of colour politics, but there are reprehensible characters here in all shades of skin. In the self- reflexive final story, the narrator receives requests from publishers who want the narrative to have a more “uplifting quality”, saying she should think more “ book-club material”. Perhaps the angry young man at the Tottenham riots shouldn’t actually hurl his Molotov cocktail? Fortunately, Clarke was not swayed by their suggestions. FOREIGN SOIL MAXINE BENEBA CLARKE GOLDEN BOYS SONYA HARTNETT No one quite gets under the skin of young adults with as much skill as Sonya Hartnett. In Golden Boys she sur veys a ragtag group of children and their complex, fractious interactions with parents, peers and siblings. US DAVID NICHOLLS Can Douglas Peterson revitalise his dying marriage and bridge the estrangement with his son? Perhaps a family trip, with enforced time together, can bring the family closer. This is no jaunty European vacation, however, but a thoughtful, moving and funny novel about ties that both bind and constrict. THE FAMILY MEN CATHERINE HARRIS Sex and footy: Catherine Harris’s decision to fictionalise a possible off-field scenario is electrifying. The young man at the centre of the narrative is torn between loyalty to his AFL family and loyalty to his own conscience. AUSTRALIAN LOVE STORIES EDITED BY CATE KENNEDY This anthology is inclusive and expansive, covering the full gamut of love: its ineffable beauty certainly, but also its agonies and asymmetries. Parental, sexual, platonic and same-sex relationships are all covered. THE FEEL-GOOD HIT OF THE YEAR LIAM PIEPER It’s been a big year for memoirs, and this is one of the strongest contenders. Liam Pieper not only had the type of upbringing that’s perfect to transmute into autobiographical 2014 STANDOUT THUY ON > Books Editor Top 10 Books of 2014 form, he’s also a natural storyteller. Here the effects of growing up with drug-addled parents is told with whimsy and humour. WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES KAREN JOY FOWLER This is a well-deser ved Booker-shortlisted title. Rosemary returns to her past to explore the repercussions of her psychologist father’s experiments on the family. The not so much dysfunctional, but definitely unusual, childrearing is deftly explored. STONE MATTRESS MARGARET ATWOOD Margaret Atwood’s 55th book is a collection of stories about the trials of getting old, and, with it, the reminiscences and regrets of youth. Many of her novels have focused on a speculative future – this one looks to the past. THE BLAZING WORLD SIRI HUSTVEDT Siri Hustvedt returns to the New York art world with Harriet ‘Harry’ Burden. After being ignored and dismissed, the artist conceals her female identity when presenting her work. The narrative offers multiple perspectives and Hustvedt is, as ever, in top form. THE LAST KING OF ANGKOR WAT GRAEME BASE Graeme Base has always impressed readers with his intricate illustrations. Lesser appreciated, perhaps, is the care with which he crafts the stories themselves. His latest is a clever moral about various animals’ boastful claims to be worthy of the title of king. COMING UP 2015 Some trusted names will be back in the New Year, with a formidable line-up from Australian authors. Tony Birch’s second novel, Ghost River, is set on the Yarra River in the 1970s. After a nine-year absence, James Bradley will be offering Clade as a comeback, and no doubt Steve Toltz is hoping his sequel Quicksand will be as successful as his Booker- shor t-listed A Fraction of the Whole. YA author Maureen McCarthy is also releasing her first adult crossover title, Stay with Me. In Non-Fiction, there’s Tim Flannery’s Climate Countdown and Gideon Haigh’s Certain Admission, a mix of real story and Australian social history. Eleanor Limprecht delves into archival records; Long Bay is based on the true experiences of an abortionist who was sentenced for manslaughter in Sydney in early 1900s. Kate Grenville has a memoir of her mother in One Life, and crime writer Kathryn Fox will be teaming with James Patterson for Private Sydney. Peter Corris fans should be pleased to know that Cliff Hardy will be back for his 40th outing in Gun Control. On the international front, look out for SJ Wat son’s Second Life, which promises to be as much of a thriller as his previous bestseller, Before I Go to Sleep. The ever-eloquent Zadie Smith will also be back with Out of Place, as will Kazuo Ishiguro with The Buried Giant. There will be a new Milan Kundera offering to tempt his legion of fans, as well as an autobiography by Oliver Sacks and another contribution from the ageing, but seemingly indefatigable, Clive James. With plenty of bookish delights to savour. Roll on 2015!