Friday Finds from 2009 Sydney Writers’ Festival


What great books did you hear about / discover this past week?

I’m a Friday Finds virgin I am. The reason is, I rarely put down newly found books on a physical To-Be-Read list. I usually read a book after I stumble upon it MANY times, not just once. The last encounter is the one that pushes me from coveting to reading.

I have a Wishlist on Amazon where I put newly found books that I may want to read in the future, but they are mostly non-fictions, since I don’t stumble upon non-fictions many times. That one encounter could be the only encounter I have with that book, hence the list. But fictions– I never run out of good fictions and my mental list is huge, so I reckon keeping track of them does not give me much.

Having said that, I’m playing Friday Finds this week because I found quite a few books from Sydney Writers’ Festival that I went to last weekend. I’m sharing!

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, Winner of 2009 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. A search on my library catalogue resulted in 2 copies and 17 reserves. Geez.

A Child’s Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper, shortlisted for 2002 Orange Prize. Well according to Amazon reviewers, her more recent book, Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee is better rated. But still, the title of the former sounds interesting to me.

Map of the Invisible World, the newest book by Tash Aw. A tale about 2 brothers that separated as orphans. One lives in Malaysia and one Indonesia.

Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom, a Dutch author whose reading I got a chance to listen to at the Festival. His reading was excellent! I saw many people holding this book to get his signature, and according to Wiki he has frequently been mentioned as a candidate to receive Nobel Prize in literature.

Nocturnes, Kazuo Ishiguro newest book. Hey, you can’t go wrong with Ishiguro, though I’m not so sure when I knew this book was a collection of short stories. I haven’t had much success with short stories in the past, but I’m definitely willing to try this one.

The Thing Around Your Neck, also a collection of short stories, latest book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Hey I can spell her name without looking anymore now). I just saw that Amazon will publish it on June 16? This book was definitely already available at the Festival.

War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story by Emmanuel Jal. I met Emmanuel at the Festival and think he and his efforts were amazing. I read A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah a while back and can never forget the story of the boy soldiers. Both Ishmael and Emmanuel are ex child soldiers, but I’m sure each of them has unique story (they’re from different country too– Ishmael from Sierra Leone, Emmanuel from Sudan). You can read one of them to know more. Or read both!

The Boat by Nam Le, has won 2008 Book of the Year Award from NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2009 and Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist Award. I love the cover! Blurb: A stunningly inventive, deeply moving fiction debut: stories that take us from the slums of Colombia to the streets of Tehran; from New York City to Iowa City; from a tiny fishing village in Australia to a foundering vessel in the South China Sea, in a masterful display of literary virtuosity and feeling.

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz has won People’s Choice Award for Fiction from NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2009. Blurb: “The fact is, the whole of Australia despises my father more than any other man, just as they adore my uncle more than any other man. I might as well set the story straight about both of them.” Meet the Deans. After a crippling injury which cut short a golden sporting career, Jasper Dean’s uncle became Australia’s most beloved murderer. After a lifetime of brilliantly impossible ideas and a brief stint as the country’s saviour, Jasper’s father became Australia’s most loathed philosopher. This is Jasper’s attempt to make sense of it all. Are they heroes or criminals? Crackpots or visionaries?

The Good Parents by Joan London has won NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2009 for Fiction. I love the Australian cover (check out second link) and the setting is in Melbourne, probably my favorite city in the world :). Blurb: Maya de Jong, an eighteen-year-old country girl from the West, comes to live in Melbourne and starts an affair with her boss, the enigmatic Maynard Flynn, whose wife is dying of cancer. When Maya’s parents, Toni and Jacob, arrive to stay with her, they are told by her housemate that Maya has gone away and no one knows where she is.

On top of that, I found this interesting essay today: An Essay: Similarities in Australian and Canadian Fiction. I recognize some of the Australian books there, so I think they are pretty well-known here in Australia, though I haven’t read any of them.

Done! How about you?

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