June Read: Sinclair Lewis

The next book for discussion is our classic read Main Street by Sinclair Lewis to be held at Orange City Library on Wednesday 12 June. Don’t forget to RSVP online through Eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132.

From Wikipedia:

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters.” His works are known for their insightful and critical views of America capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterisations of modern working women. H. L. Mencken wrote of him, “[If] there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade … it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds.”

From Sinclair Lewis:

Main Street, published late in 1920, was my first novel to rouse the embattled peasantry and, as I have already hinted, it had really a success of scandal. One of the most treasured American myths had been that all American villages were peculiarly noble and happy, and here an American attacked that myth. Scandalous. Some hundreds of thousands read the book with the same masochistic pleasure that one has in sucking an aching tooth.”

Project Gutenberg has a free download of Main Street. Find it here:https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/543

Normal People Discussion

Who would’ve thought a little book about two young people meeting at high school and continuing a relationship through university would generate so much lively discussion and passion? That’s what happened at Pageturners.

An article in The Guardian dubbed author Sally Rooney a “Salinger for the Snapchat generation”, in reference to her latest novel Normal People, was just one point of discussion.

Comments included “I like it, it was short, it was over a 3.5 year timeframe, it forced the reader to focus, there was lots of dialogue, they were little vignettes, some were minutes later – some months later, you had to get into the rhythm of it, without quotation marks you had to work out who was speaking, I loved it, it captures millennials just right, I was frustrated, they didn’t talk about things, there were misunderstandings because of this, I just wanted them to really talk to each other, the beginning was very tragic, they were drawn to each other, she felt she was unworthy, her family was wealthy but dysfunctional, there’s a lot in it, she detached, Rooney’s a young author, it is well written, I continued because there must be some reason for writing it, it didn’t make me feel good, it was repetitive, it showed mental and physical abuse, some of the characters weren’t developed enough, she allowed men to mistreat her, shows that everyone is a mystery, you don’t really know what the other person is thinking,  makes you think what is normal? it’s about power, class, emotional and physical abuse, depression, independence, self-worth, identity, belonging, mind games, submission, it was annoying and frustrating, I couldn’t finish it, beautiful writing, she’s so clever, it is just so relatable.”

Star ratings out of 5 ranged from 0.5 to 5 – so a wide range of views and feelings about Normal People.

Next Read:

The next book for discussion is our classic read Main Street by Sinclair Lewis to be held at Orange City Library on Wednesday 12 June, Don’t forget to RSVP online through Eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132.

Project Gutenberg has a free download of Main Street. Find it here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/543

And here are some more reviews for Normal People by Sally Rooney:

Washington Post

New York Times – news brief

New York Times – review


May Read: Normal People

Pageturners are discussing Normal People by Sally Rooney on Wednesday 8th May at 5.30pm at Orange City Library.

2018 Costa Novel Award winner and longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize: Normal People is the feverishly anticipated second novel from the young author of 2017’s most acclaimed debut Conversations with Friends.

From the publisher: Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.

This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.

Don’t forget to RSVP online via Eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132. Your RSVP helps with seating and catering arrangements and is much appreciated.

Reviews and interviews:

The Guardian

The Irish Times

The Sydney Morning Herald


UK Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist

29 April 2019 @booksandpublishing

In the UK, the shortlist for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced.

The six shortlisted titles are:

  • The Silence of the Girls (Pat Barker, Hamish Hamilton)
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite, Atlantic)
  • Milkman (Anna Burns, Faber)
  • Ordinary People (Diana Evans, Vintage)
  • An American Marriage (Tayari Jones, Vintage)
  • Circe (Madeline Miller, Bloomsbury).

Selected from a longlist of 16 titles, the shortlist features one debut author, Oyinkan Braithwaite, as well as 2012 Orange Prize winner Madeline Miller, 2018 Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns, and 2019 Folio Prize shortlisted author Diana Evans.

The winner of the £30,000 (A$55,030) prize, which is presented annually to the best novel written in English by a woman, will be announced on 5 June.

Scrublands Discussion

The majority of Pageturners enjoyed Scrublands by Chris Hammer but a few questioned some of the characters, the storyline and overall believability. But for most of them it was a rolling fast-paced story that kept you reading, wanting to know what was going to happen next and how it was going to be resolved. The funny thing was once we got going everyone talked about it as if all the events and characters were real!

There was general discussion about the media, life in small towns, landscape, the range of criminal events – shooting, car crash, fire, kidnap, assault; the character names, the diverse range of people in the small town, and character motivations.

And there was also great discussion about the number of issues covered in the book – here are a few – murder, mass shooting, drugs, sex, pedophilia, domestic violence, single mothers, nakedness, affairs, ASIO, fake newsroom, false identity, soldiers, orphanages and more.

And discussion about the range of characters – backpackers, bikies, spies, priests, police, journalists, bookshop owner, publican, motel owner, con-man etc that could be found in a small town.

Comments included: “it would make a great TV mini-series, the characters were believable, the story was at full-speed, it was a blender/smoothie book with everything mixed up together, red-herrings everywhere, setting was oppressive, we got our money’s worth, he was obsessed by his hands, journalist bits realistic, loved how it all unfolded, cliffhangers abounded, it was Cedar Valley on steroids, I wanted to know what happened, insightful, the towns were believable, there were no indigenous people and only one ethnic person who spoke ‘Australian’, many characters, too many characters with huge backstories, it was a big bucket of clichés, it was a deadly hostile environment, I enjoyed the rolling story, there was some dry humour, the ending was tied up in a nice bow, very visual, I hope he writes another one.”

Star ratings out of five ranged from 2 through to the majority of 3s, 3.5s and 4.

Podcast Interview with Chris Hammer by Better Reading.

It is interesting to note in the Better Reading interview Chris says he was lectured by the late Miles Franklin Literary Award winning crime writer Peter Temple. Some inspiration there perhaps?

The next read will be a change of pace with Normal People by award-winning Irish author Sally Rooney. The meeting will be held on Wednesday 8th May at Orange City Library at 5.30pm. Don’t forget to RSVP online via eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132. This helps with catering and seating. Thank you. See you then.

Upcoming Monthly Reads

Pageturners reads coming up:

8th May – Normal People by Sally Rooney

12th – Classic Read: June Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

10th July – Books by Meg Keneally

14th August – Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist (announced in May)

11th September – Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Scrublands April Read

Our April read is Scrublands by Chris Hammer to be discussed at Orange City Library on Wednesday 10th April from 5.30pm – 7pm. Please RSVP online via eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132 – thank you.

Set in an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners being shot dead himself.

A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.

About the author:

Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years, he was a roving correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than thirty countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, currrent affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

His first book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.

The Shell Discussion

Praise for The Shell:

‘A luminous look at a city at a time of change, a time when the building of the Sydney Opera House was a reach for greatness.’ The New York Times

‘Olsson transcribes Sydney into an exquisite visual palette, forcing the reader to pay attention to her stunning language. A complex and provocative novel of ideas.’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘Olsson’s subtle and nuanced tale displays how deeply the past – or at least one’s perception of it – informs life in the present.’ Kirkus Reviews

A beautifully crafted novel about a fascinating time in our history. There is a luminous precision in every sentence.’ Heather Rose, award-winning author of The Museum of Modern Love

Pageturners described it as “gentle, atmospheric, a little bit slow, beautiful language, light, time of change, a lot happening, Vietnam draft, controversy, the building of the Opera House, Utzon drama, focus on the artist, a little frustrating, didn’t get to know the characters, loved the landlady, liked the bits about Scandinavia,  liked the narrative about interviewing the author, and lots of criticisms of Australians.”

Discussion revolved around conscription, Pearl the journalist and protestor, her relationships, her brothers,  her father, Axel and his artwork and his father, nuclear weapons, Vietnam war, Anzac Day and Swedish neutrality.

Ratings out of five went as follows:  4, 4, 3.5, 2.5, 3.5, 2, 3, 2,3, 3.5, 4. So a broad range of views on the book..

Read more on the national service ballots including the birthdates drawn out: https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/viet_app

Sydney Morning Herald interview with the author Kristina Olsson: https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/kristina-olsson-my-first-visit-to-sydney-opera-house-was-a-pivotal-experience-20180925-h15uuk.html

The next read is the bestselling novel Scrublands by Chris Hammer. The discussion will be held on Wednesday 10th April at 5.30pm. Please RSVP online through Eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132. See you then.

Man Booker International

The Man Booker International Prize has revealed the Man Booker Dozen – 13 novels in contention for the 2019 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world.

  • Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth
  • Love in the New Millennium buy Can Xue, translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen
  • The Years by Annie Emau, translated by Alison L.Strayer
  • At Dusk by Hwant Sok-Yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell
  • Jokes for the Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf, translated by Jonathan Wright
  • Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli, translated by Sam Taylor
  • The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann, translated by Jen Calleja
  • Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin translated by Megan McDowell
  • The Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner
  • Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
  • The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, translated by Anne Mclean
  • The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa, translated by Sam Garrett
  • The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran, translated by Sophie Hughes

The winner of the 2019 prize will be announced on 21 May.

March Read Shell By Kristina Olsson

The Shell

Pageturners next read is Shell by Kristina Olsson on Wednesday 13th March at 5.30pm at Orange City Library.

A big, bold and hauntingly beautiful story that captures a defining moment in Australia’s history.

Everywhere he looked he saw what Utzon saw. The drama of harbour and horizon, and at night, the star-clotted sky. It held the shape of the possible, of a promise made and waiting to be kept …

In 1965 as Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s striking vision for the Sydney Opera House transforms the skyline and unleashes a storm of controversy, the shadow of the Vietnam War and a deadly lottery threaten to tear the country apart.

Journalist Pearl Keogh, exiled to the women’s pages after being photographed at an anti-war protest, is desperate to find her two missing brothers and save them from the draft. Axel Lindquist, a visionary young glass artist from Sweden, is obsessed with creating a unique work that will do justice to Utzon’s towering masterpiece.

In this big, bold and hauntingly beautiful portrait of art and life, Shell captures a world on the brink of seismic change though the eyes of two unforgettable characters caught in the eye of the storm. And reminds us why taking a side matters.
About the author:

 Kristina Olsson is a journalist and the award-winning author of the novels ShellIn One Skin, and The China Garden, and two works of nonfiction, Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir and Kilroy was Here. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

ABC Radio Interview: